Renault IE Autonomous Racer Concept Moves Spectators From Stands to Cars

Most people find the idea of watching autonomous cars compete against each other quite boring, and it's easy to understand why. Watching a human being using their skill to overtake another being of the same nature is exciting. Replace the humans with CPUs, and you might as well have it all simulated on a computer.
Renault IE concept 17 photos
Photo: Amol Satpute
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AI racing takes the competition between drivers that we're used to and turns it into a battle between software developers. Coming up with the cleverest AI might be exciting for those who are part of the program, but it doesn't make for great watching. Or at least that's what most people seem to think right now, though it needs to be said that the concept is still in its infancy.

However, most of us seem to have failed to spot an excellent opportunity brought by AI racing: the ability to place the viewers inside the driverless cars during a hot lap around a track. Sure, you can do that now with any car that has more than one seat, but those occasions are few and far between.

The idea sure didn't fly by Amol Satpute, a design student whose thesis project is the Renault IE concept. The French manufacturer is no stranger to weird concepts, so using this brand for his idea makes perfect sense. The same can be said about the use of the IE moniker - which stands for Immersive Experience - as the users will be sat right where the action takes place.

With so many people looking for new thrills, Amol might be on to something here. It's not hard to imagine people paying a lot of money to get to sit in one of these race cars during a hot lap, living the experiences normally reserved only to racing drivers. Which brings us to today's nasty subject: nausea.

Professional drivers go through extensive training programs to get into the shape required to make it through a race. Stick Average Joe in there and they might come out a little worse for wear down the other end. And that's without taking into consideration the IE's "unconventional seating position" which isn't fully detailed but seems to involve passengers sitting on their stomachs, with their faces only a few inches off the tarmac. Exciting, yes, but you'll be one violent braking for a corner away from splattering your lunch all over the car's insides.

Still, the idea definitely merits encouragement. Just imagine a few years from now you'd be able to lap the Nürburgring in a car of your choice in a much quicker manner than if you'd be behind the wheel yourself. And if AI racing proved 100 percent safe, then you could have entire races with several cars on the track at once, each providing two (or more) of the beast seats in the house.
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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