The first championship of driverless electric cars - dubbed the Roborace - has been announced by Formula E.
The driverless challenge will be held as part of events of the FIA Formula E Championship, with the races to start during the 2016/17 season.
A partnership with innovative technology company Kinetik, the Roborace will be open to all developers of autonomous driving technologies: start-ups, established car makers and technology companies and university research groups.
“We are very excited to be partnering with Kinetik on what is surely one of the most cutting-edge sporting events in history,” said Alejandro Agag, Formula E CEO. "Roborace is an open challenge to the most innovative scientific and technology-focused companies in the world. It is very exciting to create a platform for them to showcase what they are capable of.”
One of the teams will be open to every enthusiast or independent developer out there who wants to try his or her hand on developing software for driverless cars.
The robotic cars will be running on the same city circuits as the Formula E all electric racing cars. There will be ten teams in the competition, each having two driverless cars competing in one hour races. All the cars will be identical with the teams steering them using real-time computing algorithms and AI technologies.
“We passionately believe that, in the future, all of the world’s vehicles will be assisted by AI and powered by electricity, thus improving the environment and road safety,” said Denis Sverdlov, Founder of Kinetik. “ROBORACE is a global platform to show that robotic technologies and AI can co-exist with us in real life. 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 electric driverless cars for the competitors will be provided by Charge, an automotive start-up founded by Kinetic, which develops innovative range-extended electric powertrains for commercial vehicles.
The company will also make support vehicles including shuttles for transportation of visitors, towing trucks and emergency recovery vehicles.