The world’s first race on a professional track involving self-driving cars ended, not surprisingly, with a crash. As part of the Roborace competition held in Buenos Aires over the weekend, one of the two self-driving Devbot vehicles involved in the race slammed into a wall after miscalculating a particularly sharp turn.
While the Devbot vehicles weren’t going all out, they weren’t exactly driving at a leisurely pace either. At their best, both cars were driving in excess of 100 MPH, with one reaching a top speed of 115 MPH at one point.
In addition to racing around the track at high speeds, it’s worth noting that each car can communicate with the other as to prevent them from crashing into each other. Unfortunately, the racetrack wall proved to be an insurmountable foe.
As for the software malfunction that caused the crash, Roborace’s Justin Cooke explained what happened in an interview with the BBC:
One of the cars was trying to perform a manoeuvre, and it went really full-throttle and took the corner quite sharply and caught the edge of the barrier.
It’s actually fantastic for us because the more we see these moments the more we are able to learn and understand what was the thinking behind the computer and its data.
Indeed, for as far along as self-driving software and hardware has progressed, it’s clear that there’s still a lot of work to be done before self-driving cars can replace human drivers completely across all driving environments.
While the DevBot vehicles are designed such that they “can be driven by a human or a computer”, the versions used in the race over the weekend did not have any humans inside. Photos of the crash can be seen here.