The robots are coming for all of our jobs, including racecar driver. At the Goodwood Festival of Speed featured the Roborace Devbot 2.0 fully autonomous car completing a course in just 66.96 seconds and reaching a top speed of 162 kilometres per hour.
The course was Lord March’s driveway, part of the Goodwood Festival of Speed hill climb. Roborace had previously made the race at last year’s festival, but this year’s racer—Devbot 2.0-includes space for a human driver. This new approach signals Roborace’s change of focus from being a fully autonomous racing series to a series that allows humans and robots to work in tandem.
The car is pretty impressive on its own. Its record-setting speed was accomplished with four 181 horsepower electric motors. The track also posed some interesting challenges for the vehicle. The tree-covered lane makes it hard for GPS to determine the car’s location. Plus, the lane is narrow, and it was lined with hay bales for the race.
Making it even more difficult, on the last day, the course was lined with spectators. What’s more, the course wasn’t pre-programmed. Instead, Devbot relied on its own sensors to determine where it should be driving. Those sensors create a 360-degree vision using cameras and LiDar. “This environment is way more complex than a race track,” said Jen Horsey, Roborace’s chief operating officer.
“The tracks that we’ve been on are very structured: track walls, Tarmac to the edges, so here it is a step beyond. It’s actually closer to a road environment that ultimately what this technology will be applied to.
While Roborace’s Devbot 2.0 wasn’t the first autonomous vehicle to make it to the top of the run, it was the first to do so without a driver on board. The other car, a Ford Mustang that was put together by Siemens, had a driver in the seat as a “just in case” measure. Devbot’s driver got out of the car before the run was made.