Anyone who thinks car racing is all about the drivers is about to come in for a rude shock –self-driving race cars are set to hit the track soon. Roborace is planning to run alongside Formula E in the 2016/17 season with a futuristic car designed by Daniel Simon, but details about how the car would actually work have been hard to come by. Thanks to a new image from Roborace, we finally have a bit more info about what will make it tick.
Even though it's been doing the rounds since April, Daniel Simon's design is still properly arresting. Because there's no need to protect a driver, no need to leave space for the legs and head, the shape is unlike anything we've seen from Formula 1 or Le Mans racers.
Without a driver behind the wheel, Roboracers are reliant on data from a huge array of sensors and cameras. Lidar sensors are fitted to the front bumper, front flanks and rear bumper, and there are radar units at the front and rear as well. Cameras mounted to the front bumper and central "tower" also feed information back to the central brain.
That brain is a Nvidia Drive PX 2 , which is tasked with processing the torrent of raw data from the sensors at lightning speed. It's cooled by a dedicated scoop at the nose of the car, and mounted in the center of the fuselage to keep it as far from any potential crash damage as possible.
The battery pack is the other area paid special cooling attention, with outlets tucked away behind the rear wheelarches. The only element of this design not blended seamlessly into the body is the "tower" at the back, but it makes sense to have the 360-degree TV camera, status lights and pitot tube elevated and easy to see, so I guess we'll have to forgive Simon for that little aberration.
To begin with, Roborace competitors will compete in identical cars. There is expected to be 10 teams, each with two cars, running hour-long support races across the globe during the course of the Formula E championship season.