Designers must have a blast when coming up with new concepts for self-driving cars. When humans no longer have to take the wheel, things can get pretty crazy with everything from folding steering wheels, seats that spin, and screens in every direction.
Roborace, the company starting the world’s first Motorsports series featuring all driver-less cars, recently showcased their star vehicle. This race-ready robocar looks much like a crouching panther, ready to pounce on its prey. The car’s designer, Daniel Simon, has worked with companies such as Volkswagen and Bugatti. He also designed vehicles for movies such as Oblivion and Tron: Legacy, further cementing his credibility in ingenuity.
The first preview of what an autonomous race could look like was shown when Roborace sent two cars to the track in Buenos Aires. These particular cars had room for a human inside, so they didn’t look as awesome as this new prototype (but at least they made their point). Both cars were capable of avoiding a dog that ran right onto the track. However, one crashed into a wall right after (hey, not all runs can be perfect).
The dog situation actually turned out to be a good thing, because it sparked a few ideas. Now, there are thoughts that the races could be more like challenges rather than just boring loops around a track. By introducing other obstacles, there will be more of a thrill rather than focusing on the importance of speed alone.
The big hope for the company is that the vehicles can transition into road cars someday. If the systems are stable enough for racing, then eventually that should lead to driver-less cars for us all.
Development has been slower than Roborace anticipate, though.The original intention was to have at least 20 cars race-ready during the 2017 season. However, making an autonomous car isn’t easy (just ask Google, Tesla, and Uber).
We’re interested to see where this technology takes us as a society (just as long as it doesn’t take us barreling into a wall). It would be nice to kick back and let someone else take the wheel for once. It may still be a while before technology perfects these self-driving cars, but we’re ready and waiting. So keep your eyes on the road for now. Eventually you won’t have to!