The future of racing may not include a driver.
The concept of winning on Sunday and selling on Monday could be turned on its ear thanks to a new racing series known as Roborace.
Billed as "the driverless, electric racing series," Roborace could be our first glimpse at what racing will be like in the future. Instead of pitting man against man, Roborace wants to pit machine against machine.
Roborace took the first step toward that goal at the 2017 Mobile World Congress by unveiling its official autonomous race car, known simply as a Robocar. The exact details of Roborace's inaugural race have not been finalized, but it will piggyback on one of the races of the Formula E Championship.
Roborace has already completed a practice session with a pair of its prototypes, called DevBots, with mixed results. The cars successfully managed an overtaking maneuver and hit speeds of 115mph, but one of the DevBots crashed into a wall.
The Robocar cars will be mechanically identical (weighing in at about 2,200 pounds and boasting in-wheel motors at each corner), meaning any team advantages will be down to software. That innovation could spread to production cars, helping speed the development of autonomous cars for the road. After all, racing has long been credited with championing new technologies that eventually trickle down to road-going vehicles.