Autonomous Roborace Car Tries, And Fails, To Beat A Human Around A Track

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.

  • Jay

    “Autonomous cars are better at driving”.. riiighhhhht..

    • ace_9

      According to my experience, even trained monkeys are better at driving. The important thing is that this applies only to around 50 % of drivers (mostly woman and people above 45). Otherwise it is of course stupid and the technology for making autonomous cars better on common roads than good experienced driver is VERY far in the future.

      • D3X

        I think it’s going to rapidly accelerate in terms of development. What makes technology interesting is how AI and machine learning can accelerate the whole process.

        Think about computer games where this exact AI simulation exists, and how those racing games already work. If a 3D engine / game developer develops a platform that mimics certain parts that it the current autonomous iteration struggles with, the AI can be tested on this instead (of actual real life) in rapid successions for the AI to learn and reconfigure itself at a much much faster rate. Once a good version surfaces, it can use that build to test in real physics. What I’m mentioning is actually what’s happening already.

        Coupled with other systems like car-to-car communication, cloud traffic sourcing, traffic light system communication, lidar, and when all those converge to one. We wouldn’t able to drive anymore, because the amount of precision necessary to keep with the flow of traffic won’t be feasible for the average human. LOL there might be a human lane 😉

        • ace_9

          In games, the AI is not a real AI and the algorithm driving cars does not rely only on limited data available from simulated onboard sensors. The algorithms “know” everything about every part of track, because whole track is already mapped in detail.

          And I’m not saying that machines won’t be better drivers than most people, but on normal roads, I think it is still a very distant future. This RoboDriver AI knew everything about the track, and it was “trained” for the track to go fast. It would be worthless on normal road or even on different track that would be new for it.

          And I would really appreciate the human lane. Even today, because what some people are doing on the roads shouldn’t be considered human 😀

          • D3X

            I was just using that as an example to get the point across. There’s a lot of development currently using Gaming engines to help machine learning. That’s the point I’m trying to make here, and whether this video with RoboDriver is as deep or shallow – I do not know, but what I do know is that the technology is rapidly growing.

            For a more indepth analysis, check out ‘Autonomous-vehicle technology is advancing ever faster’ article from “The Economist” that refers to one company using “Grand Theft Auto” as an environment to test their Autonomous AI awareness AI (the sensory part). Which is very interesting, and cross research that company and how they actually use the gaming engine.

            What you mention with “simulated onboard sensors) is the integration part with the actual vehicle, ; cameras, radar, lidar, sensors, dynamics and such. Not saying it’s easy, but that would be part of a later process once the AI is smart enough to figure out how to keep safe, drive and avoid obstacles for the lack of better terms.

    • DAVID THOMPSON

      You will regret that sooner than later

    • Knotmyrealname

      It will come.

  • salamOOn

    i think its pretty hard to assume your speed (on the track) only by visual aspect and without the engine sound and gears.
    So kudos to him for beating that robosh*t.

    • ace_9

      No, it’s not that difficult. Actually, it is probably easier. “Gas” pedal almost precisely sets the car’s speed, no need to worry about optimal engine speed or shifting gears. My experience comes only from comparing gas and electric carts. But from people having electric cars I heard, that they are much easier to drive and in fact after longer time they have difficulties driving normal cars smoothly, because it is more difficult.

  • Six_Tymes

    “HA HA”

  • brn

    The machine was definitely playing it safe.

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