Robocar Made Its Debut at This Weekend's Formula E Race in Paris

There's no doubt that the only reason people will gather to watch the first Roborace competition will be out of curiosity for something completely novel. It's the same thing that made freak-shows so popular back in the day.
Robocar in Paris 1 photo
Photo: Twitter screenshot
However, what's interesting to watch is whether the series will actually succeed in gaining a solid following with people cheering for one AI-driven car and not the other. Up until this point, most motorsport fans have been supporting the drivers, and not the teams - with the noticeable exception of the Scuderia Ferrari. Once the human inside the car is taken out of the equation, the people aren't left with much to cheer for.

However, the actual races might prove to be quite interesting. In fact, we suspect there are just two options here: number one, the cars will be way too nice to each other, causing pileups because the two in front can't decide which one should go first through the corner ("No, you first." "Oh, but I insist, you first." "No, sir, you were here first, it's only right I yielded," and so on).

Second, it's going to be a destruction derby where the vehicles show us why we should fear the machines and their utter ruthlessness when it comes to the safety of others. Since there are no actual drivers to get injured, crashing could be taken to completely new levels.

Of course, the first situation would be catastrophic for ratings, while the second would make the series way too expensive for the teams to afford, so they'll have to find some middle ground. Either way, expect the first season to be one where the teams will continue to perfect their software, and we suspect it will only really pick up in the second term.

Roborace has been giving signs of being ready to launch, and this weekend provided the opportunity for another glimpse at what the series' creators have in store for us. The Robocar, the wonderfully-looking machine created by Daniel Simon (of Tron fame) took a walk on the Formula E track in Paris, making its first official debut in front of a crowd.

The car drove at a leisurely speed and even came to a stop at some point. The technicians had to hit the brakes as well moments later when the AI racer went too close to a barrier lining the track. All in all, though, it all went well, and we should expect to see more of the Robocar in the future.

The official Roborace channel only released two videos of the car driving through the pit lane, but the fans who were present at the event caught the unmanned vehicle as it was slowly creeping its way up the Paris track.

As the Formula E for electric vehicles, the Roborace will help advance the autonomous-driving technology and give people a chance to experience it in a competitive environment where every team will want to prove it has the best system. So even if it won't be that spectacular, it will at least be useful to the car industry.

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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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