Autonomous cars may be our future, but not many enthusiasts are excited by the prospect of watching driverless race cars go round a circuit.
That’s mainly because taking human skills and error out of racing equates to turning motorsport into a “sanitized” discipline where there’s very little room for unpredictability. In plain English, autonomous car racing is boring to watch. Unless of course you take into account this accident involving a Roborace self-driving vehicle.
It happened right at the start of the Season Beta 1.1 race when Roborace team SIT Acronis Autonomous’ self-driving car decided to drive straight into a wall instead of following the track. Footage shows that the AI controlling the autonomous racer “decided” to steer it to the right immediately after the start, plowing into the pit wall.
Roborace is the world first driver-less/autonomous motorsports category.
This is one of their first live-broadcasted events.
This was the second run.
It drove straight into a wall. pic.twitter.com/ss5R2YVRi3
— Ryan (@dogryan100) October 29, 2020
It’s not clear what led to the mishap, but in all likelihood it must have been caused by a glitch. Mind you, this wasn’t the only incident, as Autonomous Racing Graz’s car reportedly had positioning issues that led to it getting “lost” on the track, abandoning the race as a result.
Anyway, these incidents highlight the challenges of unleashing AI on a real race track. Unlike autonomous cars that are “taught” to drive on public roads, robotic racers run at far greater speeds and therefore have less room for error. They also have less time to react to hazards and make good calls.