Oct 16 2023

The future of F1? Self-driving race car that can drive at speeds of up to 185mph will take to the track in Abu Dhabi next year

Could this be the future of F1? 

A self-driving racing car that can go at speeds of up to 185mph is aiming to one day replace Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

The Dallara Super Formula SF23 will rely on the latest artificial intelligence (AI) to navigate and overtake its rivals on the world's most iconic race tracks.

The Italian carmaker today unveiled the driverless model at tech conference Gitex in Dubai ahead of the first autonomous car race next April at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.

Rather than rely on driver skill, 10 teams of engineers will compete to design the cleverest algorithm to beat each other and claim the £1.85m prize money.

Due to technological barriers, previous autonomous races have only been able to feature a maximum of two cars at time, according to race organisers.

The new A2RL racing series will be the first to allow several to compete, although officials have yet to reveal exactly how many as it will depend on safety issues.

The 690kg vehicle itself is equipped with cameras surrounding the vehicle, giving it a 360 degree view, alongside GPS to understand its position on the track, and both radar and LiDAR sensors that can detect obstacles and other cars and estimate distances.

All this will be controlled by a computer secured on the seat where the driver would normally sit – and will be lighter too. 

There will also be no need for a team in the control room to monitor fuel, tyre pressure and wear as this will be fed into the on-board monitor.

A sophisticated algorithm will then read all the data near instantaneously and drive the car autonomously on the track, learning as it goes how to go quicker each lap.

Dr Tom McCarthy, executive director at ASPIRE, which is running the race, said they had yet to test the car against a human driver due to safety issues – but it would likely beat them as the computer's reaction times would be quicker.

The Italian carmaker today unveiled the driverless model at tech conference Gitex in Dubai ahead of the first autonomous car race next April at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi

He said: 'The focus isn't on the driver's skill now; it's about the technology, programming, and machine learning algorithms that allow these vehicles to navigate intricate racetracks at breakneck speeds.'

Each of the 10 teams will be provided with the same car and then invited to modify the software behind it to make it as fast as they can.

Scientists have been developing autonomous racing cars for several years, though this will bethe first time several will compete at the same time.

In 2015, researchers at Stanford University designed an Audi TTS, dubbed 'Shelley' that could reach speeds of 120mph and beat a human driver in testing by 0.4 seconds

That same year the first global championship for autonomous cars, called 'Roborace' was launched and continued for several seasons until closing last year.

In 2019, it set the Guiness World Record fo the fastes autonomous car in the world after reaching a speed of 175mph. This is 10mph slower than the Dallara SF23.

Aspire is also looking to use the A2RL race to convince motorists that self-driving cars can be safe, even at speed. 

Dr McCarthy said: 'If you're driving on the motorway and have to avoid a crash, who would you rather controlling the car - yourself or a computer with the reaction speeds and skill of Lewis Hamilton?'

Faisal Al Bannai, Secretary General of ATRC, ASPIRE's parent company, said: 'By bringing together scientists, developers, and coding gurus from around the world within an extreme sports arena, we are actively stress-testing capabilities on the racetracks, for safety on our roads'.

Source: dailymail.co.uk