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Robocar is the first AI race car

Software engineers may be the new race car drivers with the debut of the first AI operated race car

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Standup: I’m here at the contemporary museum of art in Barcelona to check out the world’s first AI powered race car. Let’s go inside and take a look.

Track 1: This is the Robocar. At first glance it looks like a traditional racecar, but look closely and you’ll see that it doesn’t have a cabin or a steering wheel. That’s because the driver is digital, or more precisely an artificial intelligence agent.

Track 2: An enormous number of sensors scattered throughout the car’s 975-kilogram body help it to make sense of its surroundings. This includes 5 lidars, 2 radars, 18 ultrasonic sensors, 2 optical speed sensors, and 6 AI cameras.

Track 3: Getting a coherent message from all this data may seem complex, but CEO of Roborace, Denis Sverdlov, says it’s not that different from a human driver.

SOT 1: (3:08) “What is a driverless car? It’s a car which has the wheels. It receives the data from sensors, analyzes, and gives the command to steering wheel, or steering system, breaks and acceleration. Same as human. We receive the data form our sensors, making a decision and give the command. So in this types of things it’s the same.”

Track 5: The idea is this: Robocar will provide teams with racecars, all with the exact same hardware. Then software engineers will develop their own algorithms to control the AI agent. Sverdlov describes it as a battle of intelligence rather than just a flashy competition between two driverless cars.

SOT 2: “We all believe the future of the automotive industry is going to be driverless electric and connected, no doubt… And normally, if you have an industry like this, you need to have a racing where you can test, learn, get the knowledge and develop those technologies which can go back to road cars. And it doesn’t exist, it didn’t exist. Now it exists so we created Roborace, which is the place, the platform where it’s going to happen.”

Track 6: So in this driverless and connected future, is there a place for humans in auto racing? Robocar designer, Daniel Simon, seems to think so.

SOT 3: (2:15) “To me this is still very human, this competition to be honest… people are gonna write the code, so you have two cars approaching a corner, one team may think…it’s clever if our car breaks and gives the other car the room because we wait until the end, we want to play it safe and the other team might be more daring and say no our car always pushes and we hope we make it to the end.”

Track 6: Sverdlov says there are already 100 companies interested in taking part in Roborace, but admits that the AI technology for a real race will probably not be ready for at least 2 years.

Track 7: Of course, that doesn’t stop Simon from dreaming big.

SOT 4: (4:29)
“I think a future generation is coming that gets really excited about robots. They will have characters. They will maybe talk. They make sounds. And to be honest, one day I see them moving with a softer skin. Maybe they come back to the pits and are totally exhausted and breath heavily and the other one doesn’t because it didn’t fight so hard. This is just the very very beginning of something.”