Devbot development car has been shown in action on a flying lap; the Robocar will compete in the world's first race series for autonomous vehicles

Roborace has released a video of its development car, Devbot, autonomously completing a lap of the Berlin ePrix circuit. 

The upcoming fully autonomous race series, which works in collaboration with the Formula E all-electric race series, showed the car completing its lap with an empty cockpit. The series' prototype, Robocar, doesn't have a cabin for a driver to sit, but Devbot's development car status means there is often need for a driver's input, as the car is used by all teams for development of features to be applied to Robocar.

Just as Formula E is used to accelerate the development of electric vehicles, the CEO of Roborace, Denis Sverdlov, hopes that the series will serve a similar purpose in accelerating the development of autonomous cars. 

Roborace Robocar revealed

The organisers of Roborace, a new motorsport initiative for driverless racing cars, have revealed a first look of how the autonomous racing vehicle might look.

The concept - which uses electric propulsion and is operated via connected technology – is the work of former Bugatti and Volkswagen concept designer Daniel Simon, who has joined Roborace as chief design officer.

Roborace events will take place prior to regular Formula E races, and will use the same circuits. The series will feature 10 teams, each fielding two driverless cars. Although the cars will look identical, the teams will compete “using real-time computing algorithms and AI technologies”.

Simon, a 41-year-old German, has worked with race engineers on the concept, which Roborace intends to turn into reality for a series of demonstration events on the Formula E undercard. As well as automotive work, Simon has been involved with movies such as Oblivion and Tron:Legacy, and has also designed drones, motorcycles, spaceships and Le Mans cars.

He said: “My goal was to create a vehicle that takes full advantage of the unusual opportunities of having no driver without ever compromising on beauty. Racing engineers and aerodynamicists have worked with me from the beginning to strike that balance.

“Roborace is as much about competition as it is entertainment. Therefore - and quite unusual in today’s racing world - beauty was very high on our agenda and we work hard to merge the best performance with stunning styling. It was important to us that we generate substantial downforce without unnecessary parts cluttering the car to maintain a clean and iconic look.

“This is largely made possible by using the floor as the main aerodynamic device and we are currently developing active body parts that are more organic and seamless than solutions today. I am excited to be part of the daring team of people who are making this happen.”

Sverdlov has described the new series as “gaming, motorsport, technology and entertainment all rolled into one", and that it's designed to “provide a competitive platform for the autonomous driving solutions that are now being developed”.

The stated mission of the new series is to demonstrate that "autonomous driving technology is already here, and can even work in extreme conditions".

"Roborace believes there is a lot of independent talent in the world that might contribute to this initiative.”

One of the 10 team slots will be taken by a crowd-sourced and community-funded team, and will take applications from software developers and technology experts worldwide.

Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag said: “Roborace is an open challenge to the most innovative scientific and technology-focused companies in the world. It is very exciting to create a platform for them to showcase what they are capable of, and I believe there is great potential for us to unearth the next big idea through the unique crowd-sourced contest.”

Read more: Autocar drives a Formula E racer

Our Verdict

Bugatti Veyron
The world doesn't need a car like the Bugatti Veyron, but the fact it exists at all is reason for celebration

The Bugatti Veyron redefines what's possible in a road car, but does it justify its eye-watering price?

Join the debate


27 November 2015
F1's had these for years

27 November 2015
And who/what will receive the trophies at the end of the race? Will Androids stand on the podium for the sake of authenticity?

Please tell me this is a joke!

27 November 2015
What a stupid idea.

FE isn't that great anyway, rubbish circuits and poor racing, this won't improve things

31 March 2016
they will have to right a programme to decide who wins...or are they going to let AI decide who wins....can computers feel i dont thinks lets stick with bio-computers....yes i mean humans, they can feel, they can decide to make silly mistakes like not paying attention to the car in front and anticipate what might happen next...not whats been programmed in....

23 June 2017
Based on the various cars data outputs, weather conditions, track data, they could just forescast the winners and save everyone the tedium of even considering watch this.

On a technical basis, this is very interesting/exciting. On a spectator basis, It's about as interesting as watching a battery charger.


Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Skoda Citigo
    This is the facelifted Skoda Citigo
    First Drive
    28 June 2017
    The facelifted Citigo gets a new infotainment system, but Skoda has wisely resisted the urge to make sweeping changes
  • Volvo XC60
    Car review
    28 June 2017
    Volvo aims its reinvigorated crosshairs at the medium-sized SUV ranks
  • First Drive
    27 June 2017
    Ford says the all-new Fiesta has extra polish and more space. We drove the ST-Line X 5-door 1.0T Ecoboost to find out how it shapes up
  • Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer Design Nav 1.5 Turbo Ecotec 140 2017 review
    First Drive
    23 June 2017
    Low-rung estate model offers great value for money, albeit with little shine or excitement
  • Audi SQ5
    Car review
    23 June 2017
    New performance SUV has it all to do in a class of talented rivals. Is it up to the task?