Posted on

The world’s first self-driving car race didn’t go according to plan

No driver needed.
Image: roborace

For the first time ever, self-driving race cars zoomed through a course in public, with impressive (well, for one of them, anyway) results.

Roborace, the self-driving racing series Formula E announced in 2015, made history with its first public trial race at the Buenos Aires ePrix last weekend.

The two competitors: Devbots 1 and 2, which raced each other in a sprint around the Puerto Madero street circuit.

Roborace says the winning Devbot 1 hit a top speed of 186 kph (115 mph) during the contest. Formula E’s normal manned cars can reach about 225 kph (140 mph), not waaay faster than the self-driving car. That said, it was only driving with one other car on the course adding more competitors to the field could slow it down a bit.

The cars’ AI system passed one unexpected test: when a stray dog wandered into its path on the track, Devbot 1 was able to avoid the pup and stay on course.

While the Devbot 1 handled the unexpected challenge of dodging a moving dog, driving through the course at full speed was too much to handle for Devbot 2. The car took a corner too sharply, overcorrected, and smashed up against the wall, ending the first ever totally autonomous public race in a crash.

The crash is a disappointment for Roborace, which was working to bring the autonomous racing action to Formula E tracks before the 2017 season ends this summer. But it’s not all bad news: the AI system will learn from its mistakes and be in a better position than it was before the crash. Look for another demonstration at the next Formula E race in Mexico City on April 1 to see how much closer we are to successful self-driving car races.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/02/21/roborace-self-driving-car-race/