Whether you like it or not, and despite incidents that show they are not ready just yet, autonomous vehicles are coming – and that includes self-driving race cars.
While we find it hard to believe that autonomous racing will take off like many tech-heads imagine, Roborace continues to test and develop its DevBot before a self-driving race series joins the Formula E calendar.
DevBot’s newest challenge saw it competing against professional drifter Ryan Tuerck on a flying lap around a street circuit in Rome.
Following a series of warm-up laps to familiarize himself with the DevBot, Tuerck was able to set a best time of 1:51.8 around the circuit. When Tuerck jumped out and the electric racer was left to its own devices, it recorded a best time of 2:18.4, more than 26 seconds slower than its human counterpart.
Can’t beat a human – not right now
This isn’t the first time an autonomous racer has failed to show us humans how to quickly lap a race circuit.
Last year, Yamaha’s Motobot racing superbike was supposed to be quicker than Valentino Rossi. In the works since 2015, the self-riding bike ended up being roughly 30 seconds slower than the most prolific rider in MotoGP history.
It’s not just speed that these autonomous racers are lacking. If you remove the driver from a race car or race bike, you lose the entire battle of humans going head-to-head for supremacy behind the wheel, which in turn diminishes public interest.