Roborace: the ultimate autonomous driving competition

Written by Theo Koenig - August 25, 2020

Edited by Asaf Kedem

Roborace is gearing-up for its second season, otherwise known as season Beta, taking place between September 2020 and May 2021. Races take place on the same temporary city-center streets circuits as Formula E. However, unlike Formula E, emphasis is placed on the artificial intelligence (AI) software rather than the car, as teams in Roborace only develop the software for the cars that are already provided. A total of 12 races will be run in 6 locations around the world.

Essentially a support series to Formula E, Roborace differentiates itself by featuring only level 5 autonomous vehicles, meaning completely self-driven and without a driver. Many exciting teams featured during the first full season in 2019, season Alpha; notably London-based electric vehicle maker, Arrival, and the Technical University of Munich (TUM). Improvements on the inaugural season have already been announced, including the integration of a Metaverse, which Roborace described as “a mixed reality world within the competition to further challenge teams”.

The team of doctoral students of the TUM, who have featured in many Autonomous driving competitions since 2018, represent human drivers using probabilistic models. Possible behaviors are modeled using data-driven methods to generate probability distributions. Current challenges lie in taking uncertainties into account, and in computational efforts. For level 5 autonomous vehicles in general, the biggest hurdle remains adapting to the variability of other road users’ behaviors.

Auto Trendy’s take:

We see competitions such as these playing a much bigger role in the future. Teams participating will not be too worried by the lack of viewership in the first season (races are not broadcasted live, but rather uploaded to YouTube), knowing that bigger players in the technology and automotive sectors will be watching closely. Autopilot features are already present in cars manufactured by Tesla and Waymo (a subsidiary of Alphabet), to name a few. The question that now remains is, will the public take to autonomous driving?