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The World's First Driverless Racing Car Revealed

Can a racing car do without its driver? You’d think not, but a British company is aiming to prove otherwise with a new racing prototype.

It’s called the DevBot, and as its name suggests, it’s been built with the specific aim of allowing development on a race series of robotic, self-driving cars.

Roborace, the company behind the series, has created the DevBot as a prototype, in order to show what driverless racing cars can do. It plans to stage a series of races with the cars, which will take place as part of the 2016/17 Formula E Championship for manually driven electric cars.

The DevBot’s form is rather different to the finished cars’, as it incorporates a standardised, safety-compliant cabin in order that a person can ride aboard or even take control.

Roborace says this will enable engineers to gain a better understanding of the way the computers “think” as the car drives itself around a track.

The rest of the car is entirely custom-built, and features the same electric powertrain, sensors, computer “brains” and communication technology as the finished product, which is set to be revealed later this year.

Roborace says it has already undertaken secret trials of the DevBot on airfields and racing circuits around the country, during one of which the car drove itself around Silverstone’s International Circuit.

It adds that it has already received applications from “a large number of technology, motorsport, research laboratory and university teams” to take part in the series, all of whom will be given time with the car over the next six months before the race series commences.

Ten teams in total will be allowed to enter two cars each into the races, which will last one hour and take place just before each Formula E round, and on the same circuits - including the London round .

All the teams will use the same car with the same hardware beneath the skin, but the skill will be in the software engineering, as teams will be allowed to make changes to the complex programming installed in the car to try and improve its performance on the track. 

Roborace says the aim of the series is to show off autonomous car technology, in order to improve their public perception, and to further the abilities of the technology through competition.

DevBot will take part in its first public demonstration at the Formula E open practice sessions, which will be held at Donington Park on August 24.

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