Like most North Americans, I grew up in a car culture. Driving was part of everyday life in the suburbs. And, I love to drive. I find it a challenge to the brain, fun, and sometimes therapeutic.
I am also a long time motorsports fan, involved in motorsports marketing, and have been attending races with cars driven by humans for years. I’ve been a fan of numerous drivers, and have witnessed in person or on live television various amazing performances by these athletes inside a race car cockpit. I still really enjoy it, and don’t think this form of motorsport is going away anytime soon.
When I first heard the news of the planned Roborace wholly autonomous race car series to be a support feature for the Formula E series, I was dubious of its merits and appeal. However, after my first experience recently at a Formula E race, and then the unveiling of the incredibly futuristic and good looking Roborace concept car, my views on this proposed series are definitely evolving.
Realizing the fact that more and more electric and autonomously driven cars will inevitably enter the marketplace, envisioning the new Roborace series linked with Formula E seems a natural fit and has the ability to be a very appealing platform for involvement by auto manufacturers, technology companies, software engineers, sponsors, and even universities. This is going to make a very powerful combination of innovation, technology, business, and entertainment. They both are definitely on to something interesting and viable here.
And, Roborace will still have a “human” side as it is going to be the software engineers on the teams that will develop highly sophisticated algorithms for the cars who will now be seen as the “drivers”. I’m not a tech guy at all (I know nothing about algorithms, and the computing power of the car’s NVIDIA CPU baffles me), but I can readily relate to this as a “fan”. And, I would suspect, so will millions of others around the world who may, or may not, be fans of traditional motorsport at the moment. And, if it does draw more attention to the “sport”, then this will only be good for “motorsports” as a whole.
With the forecasted benefits of autonomous vehicles in saving lives, increasing productivity, raising quality of life, and positively benefiting the environment, I’ll be interested in seeing how this all pans out in the future. And, I’ll be looking forward to identifying my favorite software engineer “driver” to support when the Roborace cars hit the track later this year!