Roborace Just Unveiled World's First Self-Driving Electric Racecar


The world’s first self-driving electric racecar is here, and it looks absolutely incredible. The Robocar, an all-electric carbon fiber torpedo that can race around a track with no driver at nearly 200 miles per hour, got its grand unveiling at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress on Monday. The Robocar will be used in Roborace’s fully self-driving competitions, with two cars expected to compete head-to-head later this year.

“Roborace opens a new dimension where motorsport as we know it meets the unstoppable rise of artificial intelligence,” Daniel Simon, Roborace’s chief design officer, said in a statement. Simon has a long history of designing futuristic cars, and his work has been featured in films like Tron: Legacy and Oblivion. “Whilst pushing the boundaries of engineering, we styled every single part of the Robocar… I’ve worked on a lot of cool stuff: Tron, Bugatti, Star Wars, and this takes the cake.”

The Roborace is a competition like no other. Unlike many racing sports, Roborace competitors will use the same basic cars, with no human drivers on the track. Instead, engineers and programmers will compete to develop the best self-driving car software to make it round the track in the fastest time.

Denis Sverdlov, Roborace CEO, and Daniel Simon, Roborace chief design officer, stand next to the Robocar.


Earlier this month, the group held the world’s first autonomous car race. Two development cars known as DevBots, first developed in June 2016, competed against each other on the Formula E ePrix track in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Only one made it to the end, though — the other crashed into a barrier.

Front and rear of the final Robocar.


The final Robocar is powered by four motors weighing 154 pounds (70 kg) with 300 kilowatts of power each, and a 540-kilowatt battery providing juice to its all-wheel drive during the race. It’s capable of reaching speeds of around 200 miles per hour, thanks to its carbon fiber frame that means the car weighs only 2,150 pounds (975 kg). The overall body measures 15 feet nine inches long and around six feet seven inches wide.

Robocar on the road.


“Roborace will help people to accept robots on the road,” Denis Sverdlov, Roborace CEO, said on stage at the launch event. “The purpose of the Roborace is to embrace it, to show it will work perfectly.”

Robocar from above.


Where the magic really happens is in the array of sensors used for the self-driving components. The car has five Lidars (four on the front and one on the back), two radars, 18 ultrasonic sensors, two optical speed sensors, six A.I. cameras, and satellite navigation.

Robocar in action.


The car has had a number of third parties contributing parts and expertise. Michelin is providing tires, while electric truck company Charge is providing components including power electronics and motors.

“It is great to have a platform like Roborace to test our technology to the limits and apply those learnings to our electric trucks on the road,” Greg Forostovsky, Charge’s director of engineering, said in a statement.

Design sketches for the Robocar.


The car’s computing power comes from the Nvidia Drive PX 2, the same computing platform used in recent Tesla cars to lay the groundwork for fully autonomous driving. It’s capable of up to 24 trillion A.I. operations per second and uses deep learning for entire situational awareness around the car. Nvidia is hoping that the Roborace experiences will help the company understand how the platform handles in extreme conditions.

Robocar design sketches.


“The progress with Devbot on track and building the Robocar in less than a year has been extraordinary and we cannot wait to continue the journey of learning with the Robocar,” Sverdlov said in a statement. Watch the full keynote speech below: