Electric and autonomous single-seaters will take part in the first driverless race in 2016
Formula E, the electric single-seater competition category organized by the FIA (International Automobile Federation) will launch a series of races next year with driverless cars, according to the magazine Fortune.
The races will take place at the start of the Formula E events with the aim of attracting more young people, who are consumers with a good knowledge of technology. The Roborace will be the first race of its kind, and the first will take place in the 2016/17 season. At least ten teams will be on the starting grid, with two cars each: there will be 20 competitors, but no pilot, according to the BI Intelligence report Examining how the IoT will affect the world.
The races will last one hour, and the autonomous electric cars will have to demonstrate that they have the best artificial intelligence on board to win. The driving algorithms will obviously be used for the first time during the race, but the strategy will feed on what has already been tested in Formula E.
The races will also showcase for the general public the progress made in driverless technology.
BI Intelligence points out that consumers are not aware that many of the technology and automotive industries believe that driverless cars will be on the market very soon. This lack of general public awareness has led to one of the major obstacles for the adoption of these kinds of cars: lack of regulation. The US federal government does not have a regulatory framework in place dealing with the safety requirements for driverless vehicles, as there has been no public demand for this kind of regulation. Only four states have a regulatory framework of this kind. Given that the first driverless cars could be available for purchase in 2019, the big question as of today is whether regulation will move forward at the same speed as technology.
The US Department of Transportation recently urged the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to create new federal safety requirements for driverless vehicles, in an effort to promote progress in this technology. Those states that have been reluctant to develop any kind of regulation will probably follow the lead of the federal regulators, so it is essential for the federal government to draft clear regulations for driverless cars to ensure states are prepared when they arrive on the market.
Denis Sverdlov, the founder of Kinetic and Roborace, comments: "We passionately believe that, in the future, all of the world’s vehicles will be assisted by AI [artificial intelligence] and powered by electricity, thus improving the environment and road safety," (reported in The Guardian).