The first autonomous car race, named Roborace, occurred this weekend in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as a prelude to the Formula E championship. Two self-driving racecars took to the track, but sadly one crashed before the race ended.
The Devbot electric vehicle misjudged a corner while travelling at over 150km/h, faster than most self-driving car tests carried out by Google, Tesla, and other automakers.
“One of the cars was trying to perform a manoeuvre, and it went really full-throttle and took the corner quite sharply and caught the edge of the barrier,” Roborace’s chief marketing officer Justin Cooke told the BBC.
“It’s actually fantastic for us because the more we see these moments the more we are able to learn and understand what was the thinking behind the computer and its data.”
Speeding past the wreckage
The other self-driving vehicle was able to complete the course, reaching a top speed of 186km/h (116mph) and turning a few difficult corners without issue.
Roborace was created in part to promote the idea of self-driving to a new audience, but also to test artificial intelligence and autonomous systems at high speed. This data may be shared in the future with other automakers.
The next race, which will include ten cars, takes different AI concepts and pits teams against one another. Some Formula 1 fanatics have criticized the competition, saying it removes the human element from car racing. Others have said it opens the competition to more customization and lets engineers take the forefront.