The driverless Roborace racing car has made its first public run up the hillclimb course at the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed, wowing the spectators and delighting the team behind the project; there were audible gasps of relief in the media centre as the autonomous vehicle made it across the line without stuffing itself into a hay bale.
They must have been fairly confident it wouldn’t end in disaster in front of the sellout 55,000-strong crowd attending the event in West Sussex today: a test session on Monday morning showed the car could make it to the top of the 1.15-mile course successfully, as demonstrated in this 360-degree video.
And although there was a sprinkling of rain here yesterday, and cloud cover this morning, it was a straightforward dry run for the Robocar today.
‘Straightforward’ perhaps underplays the achievement, though: the futuristic-looking Robocar, designed by Daniel Simon, a former car designer at Volkswagen and Bugatti who went on to work on conceptual vehicles for Hollywood blockbusters, including Tron: Legacy and Prometheus, combines 360-degree sensors, including Lidar laser scanners, with artificial intelligence to ‘see’ where it’s going, and judge its own speed and steering to suit the environment.
Speaking at a launch event for the Goodwood Festival of Speed’s Future Lab yesterday evening, Rod Chong, Roborace deputy CEO told Driving.co.uk that next year will see the launch of a new racing series featuring an evolution of the Robocar that can also accommodate a human driver, with the AI and human working together as teammates.
Chong said the new car should be revealed either late this year or early next, and refused to give out any further details, other than to confirm that it would be an international racing series.