Roborace has attracted plenty of interest since it was announced in 2015, but that hasn't been backed up by much action on the track. Last year, two early prototypes raced around the streets of Buenos Aires, but the Robocar that teams will actually be programming hasn't been sighted on the road – until now. Roborace has taken the Robocar for an autonomous lap of the Formula E track in Paris.
While the lap itself was conducted at (or below) walking pace, successfully navigating the 1.9 km (1.18 mi) ePrix circuit is a step forward for Roborace. It was the first time the car (and not just a cobbled together development mule) had been let loose on a track, so the goal wasn't smashing lap records. Instead, the robot brain hidden away under the car's futuristic skin was set up to learn its environment.
Designed by Daniel Simon, the man responsible for creating the light cycles in Tron Legacy, the bone-shaped vehicle relies on a dizzying array of radars, ultrasonic sensors and cameras to understand the world around it. All the information from those sensors combines with GNSS positioning data, before being processed by a Drive PX2 brain that's capable of making 24 trillion operations per second.
When the series finally gets going, (hopefully this year), each team will be able to program that brain in the hopes of making their car smarter and, ultimately, faster than the rest. Top speed is pegged at 200 mph (322 km/h) thanks to four 300 kW (402 hp) electric motors, and the cars will race as a support series for Formula E.
Check out a video of the Robocar lapping Paris (slowly) in the video below.
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