Formula E launches driverless racing championship

Formula E has today announced the launch of a new global championship for autonomous electric cars, which will act as a support race for the current FIA Formula E series from the 2016-17 season.

The new championship, called RoboRace, has been designed to provide a competitive platform for the plethora of autonomous technologies that are being developed by car manufacturers and technologies companies worldwide.

The new series is the result of Formula E Holding’s partnership with investment company Kinetik, and will feature ten teams fielding two driverless cars each in one-hour races. All the teams will be provides with the same cars, but will be open to develop their own real-time computing algorithms and AI technology.

Denis Sverdlov, Founder of Kinetik and ROBORACE, said: “We passionately believe that, in the future, all of the world’s vehicles will be assisted by AI and powered by electricity, thus improving the environment and road safety. ROBORACE is a celebration of revolutionary technology and innovation that humanity has achieved in that area so far. It’s a global platform to show that robotic technologies and AI can co-exist with us in real life. Thus, anyone who is at the edge of this transformation now has a platform to show the advantages of their driverless solutions and this shall push the development of the technology.”

Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E, said: “We are very excited to be partnering with Kinetik on what is surely one of the most cutting-edge sporting events in history. ROBORACE is an open challenge to the most innovative scientific and technology-focused companies in the world. It is very exciting to create a platform for them to showcase what they are capable of and I believe there is great potential for us to unearth the next big idea through the unique crowd-sourced contest.”

This is not the first time that the subject of driverless technology has been raised in Formula E, with Team Aguri boss Mark Preston having expressed an interest in implementing such innovations in the main championship to showcase it to the public:

Speaking to Current E, he commented: “Motorsport is a great testing ground and I see Formula E as a prototyping competition for autonomous vehicles and other technologies.”

“Formula E is a great place to experiment and showcase new ideas and bring them to the attention of the world in a controlled environment where people can gain confidence that they are safe,” Preston goes on. “In this respect, FCY scenarios would present the perfect opportunity to introduce such technologies.”

Team Aguri has formed a partnership with the MobOx Foundation – a “living laboratory” in Oxford – to better to understand where such inventions first enter daily life and how the potential of novel technologies such autonomous vehicles can be fulfilled.

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