The main question everyone had going into the first New York City ePrix debuting Formula E on the streets of South Brooklyn was whether or not they are the future. In my opinion there’s no question about it, of course electric race cars will be part of our future in Motorsport. But one of the support races called the Roborace, that is a real question whether it’s the future or not?
I do believe it is.
There’s so much opportunity!
We were treated to a display of a traditional LMP3 chassis car with a driver on board doing several learning laps around the Brooklyn Street Circuit to teach the software how to do an ideal lap. Then the pilot gave control over to the computer to do a lap while keeping his hands close to the steering wheel with the ability to take over if the computer did something wrong. And finally the car executed a perfect lap with the driver out of the car…. The car didn’t go particularly fast, but it did what it was supposed to do driving autonomously and speed in my view is a totally adjustable parameter at that point.
So do I think this stripped down prototype replace the flashy Le Mans cars we are used to watching in IMSA or WEC?
No… not at all. But I’m thinking to the old days of Le Mans where there was variety. And with this series I think the opportunity for “variety” is incredible! Remember when formula cars raced alongside sports cars on the same track… we have the prototypes and GT cars racing together now, having multi-class competitions each competing for the top step on the podium at their own speed, depending on the class. I think it would be awesome to see humans compete against Robocars on the same track in the same race, at the same time.
It would be incredible!
I love the look of this driver-less Robocar:
I will be watching eagerly to see how this plays out in the near future! I for one would love to see more of these cars at the tracks I go to volunteer around the world.