Driverless race car wows Mobile World Congress

Lachlan Colquhoun
telecomasia.net

A robot racing car with the potential to achieve speeds of 320 kilometres per hour has been unveiled for the first time at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The vehicle, which will begin testing in March, has been created by robot racing company Roborace as a testbed for the advanced technology which will be needed to perfect the world of driverless cars.

“It is an open platform where all the core elements of the future are going to be developed and tested,” Roborace chief executive Denis Sverdlov told the MWC audience at a keynote session.

“It will show the benefits of these unique technologies and will help people to understand and accept robots.”

The car was designed by Daniel Simon, best known for his sci-fi work on Star Wars and Tron. It does not have a cockpit or cabin for a human driver, and includes six cameras packed with the latest Artificial Intelligence software.

Four 300 kilowatt engines are mounted on each wheel of the vehicle, which weighs 960 kilograms.

Roborace plans to build ten of these vehicles, all of them identical in hardware but differentiated by software, and stage races alongside partner Formula E, the electronic car racing championship organization.

“The question is how long will it take humans to teach robots how to beat human drivers in the race environment,” Daniel Simon told the audience.

The Roborace car was launched in an auditorium adjacent to the MWC Innovation Hall, where a number of car makers and technology companies working on the developing world of the driverless vehicle are exhibiting their products and solutions. There is even a driverless tuk tuk on display.

Earlier in the session on autonomous vehicles, Anthony Levandowski – the chief executive of self-driving truck start-up Otto – explained why the advent of 5G technology was so crucial.

“Autonomous vehicles are often put out there as a key use case for 5G technology,” said Levandowski, whose company has been acquired by Uber.

“I think one of the key enabling technologies will be having the cars be able to talk to each other and talk to the infrastructure, and that is why 5G is so important.”

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