Self-Driving F1 Racecar Robots Are Coming In 2016

Self-Driving F1 Racecar Robots Are Coming In 2016
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During its GTC 2016 keynote address, Nvidia unveiled a new Formula E event dubbed Roborace. As its name implies, this new racing class will feature fully autonomous cars powered by Drive PX 2 supercomputers. If that’s not crazy enough, the first race is expected to kick off this season. Blimey.

The FIA Formula E Championship is a class of auto racing that uses only electric-powered cars. Now it’s throwing robots into the mix. Roborace (we’d work on that name, fellas) will see 10 teams compete with 20 driverless full-size cars powered by Drive PX 2. For the uninitiated, this is Nvidia’s new self-driving platform that packs in 12 CPU cores and two Pascal GPUs for eight teraflops of computing power.

Explains Nvidia: “The supercomputer-in-a-box is vital to deep learning and trains artificial intelligence to adapts to different driving conditions, including asphalt, rain and dirt.”

Each team will command two cars each. The vehicles weigh in at just under 1000kg which is roughly in line with other electric Formula 1 cars. The vehicle pictured above was designed by Daniel Simon who knows a thing or two about sleek sci-fi aesthetics: he also created the light cycles in Tron Legacy.

The cockpit-free design has allowed Nvidia’s engineers to house the Drive PX 2 computer without compromising the size or weight of the vehicle. On the downside, this means you can’t go for a ride on autopilot if you were crazy enough to trust a robotic racecar.

While the cars in the race will all be identical, each team has the freedom to develop their own software algorithms which should result in different tactics being deployed on the tarmac. Doubtlessly, there will be plenty of spills and crashes in the first few seasons as the platform finds its feet; thankfully, with no human injuries.

Kotaku travelled to GTC 2015 in San Jose, California as a guest of Nvidia.


  • Can’t imagine that fight mode would be too popular with businesses as it would increase their repair/replacement costs.

  • If you skip through the bullshit, you find out that it’s the same damn car for every contestant. The only thing attracting me to the race was the chance of reaaal unlimited race vehicle innovation. Engineering marvel! Team X has the better top speed while Team Y has the better AI and gains back ground through the corners….GAH

      • Money has nothing to do with innovation. People innovate, money doesn’t innovate.

        Sure you can buy IP but that’s a short term gain for a huge cost better invested in the right people. Not to mention that it can be easily fixed with a spending cap per team like most other sports.

        • More money means more capital to invest in more man hours of innovation, hence why all racing codes are pushing further into limiting the amount of diversity in the participating vehicles, because more money wins.

    • Korean gill is such a scam. I feel so sorry for any one that put money into it without actually looking into how physically possible it would be to make practical.

  • It’ll be interesting to see how the racing level AI filters down to the cars that normal people drive.

    Especially if they start competing against human drivers.

  • id love to see big wheelers, you know?, like the type that were in Rollcage and the upcoming Grip.
    racing through the arizona dessert and canyons ;D

  • I just wish someone would finally do a proper, well funded and well supported RobotWars.

    You want AI fighting? Give them weapons and an arena not a race track.

  • Can’t wait ’til one of the “intentional crashes” launches a car into to crowd, as at LeMans 1955.

    This sport will get even more expensive after that…

  • A lot of excitement from extreme sports come from the danger aspect of it. Take the danger away because there’s no human interaction with it. Will it still be exciting?

  • They’ll be saving a lot of money when you don’t have factor in insurance cost for the driver and just need someone with fast reflexes and not someone with fast reflexes and can withstand the G’s.

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