The Formula E electric car series is just a couple of races into its second season, and the still-young series has seemingly been a success thus far, showing the appeal of an eco-friendly alternative to Formula One racing.
And it will continue pushing racing frontiers when the next season rolls around, as Formula E just announced a partnership with Kinetik to launch a side series of driverless car races for the 2016-17 Formula E season. It will be called... Roborace.
Well, at least the premise is better than the name. Twenty cars (10 teams with two cars each) will compete in the one-hour races, which will precede each Formula E event at the same circuits during the season. And they'll all use the same cars - much like Formula E did for its first season - which can reach a stunning 300kph. That ought to make them the fastest autonomous cars on the planet.
We haven't seen the cars yet (that's a Formula E photo up top), but the racing league hopes to draw some of the top driverless car makers into the fold. Wired UK says there will be a team of crowdsourced talent, in addition to potential corporate participants and tech-centric universities. Since each team has the same cars, they'll need to prove their supremacy when it comes to A.I. and algorithms.
"Roborace is a celebration of revolutionary technology and innovation that humanity has achieved in that area so far. It’s a global platform to show that robotic technologies and A.I. can coexist with us in real life," says Denis Sverdlov, founder of Kinetik. "Thus, anyone who is at the edge of this transformation now has a platform to show the advantages of their driverless solutions and this shall push the development of the technology."
The 2016-17 Formula E season should start in or around October 2016, and so too will Roborace, barring any complications.