The autonomous racing category Roborace took a step closer to becoming a reality today when its development car (named the DevBot) enjoyed its maiden public test at Donington Park following Formula E’s collective test day.
The driverless series was announced last year, with the plan being to showcase its technology at some point during season three. A tech map of the cars that will be used was released last month.
In a video released by Roborace earlier this week, the DevBot (a modified, electric-powered Ginetta LMP3 car), was shown on-track at Silverstone. “The primary purpose of the DevBot is to allow teams to develop their software and experience the hardware that will be used on the Robocar,” the description accompanying the video read.
“Unlike the Robocar the DevBot has a cabin that can be driven by a human or a computer, allowing teams to fully understand how the car thinks and feels on a racetrack alongside the comprehensive real-time data. The DevBot is equipped with the same drivetrain, sensors, computation systems and communication technology as the Robocar designed by Daniel Simon which will be revealed later this year in 2016.”
The DevBo’ took to the track tonight at Donington Park with a driver behind the wheel for the first three laps. The driver got out and shut the door, leaving the car to pull away on its own at the start-finish line. Except it didn’t. After a short wait, the driver got back in, took it to the end of the pit lane and then got out again. This time around, the car slipped away on its own and began its lap. It came back into sight a short time later at the end of the lap, only to nearly spear off off at the final corner. A circuit announcement confirmed soon after that the marshals had stopped it as a safety precaution, ending the first public run for the Devbot on a slightly panicked note.
Let’s hope we get to see the DevBot in action again sometime soon and that it can complete a full lap. Roborace may divide opinion, but autonomous vehicles are set to play a big role in the future of motoring -and this will be an important step to push the boundaries of the technology.