Roborace car to attempt first autonomous run at Goodwood Hillclimb
Posted By: Editor   |  27 Jun 2018   |  10:35 pm GMT  |  116 comments

Is it the future? Or just a technical exercise?

Either way, this performance will be played out in front of a large public audience.

The Robocar, the vehicle to be used in the electric autonomous racing series Roborace, will make history by becoming the first vehicle to attempt an autonomous run of the Goodwood hillclimb at the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed.

The Roborace championship is pencilled in to become a support race of the Formula E Championship in the coming years, and is expected to consist of ten teams of two single-spec cars.

The chassis and powertrain will be the same for all teams, but teams will be permitted to develop their own artificial intelligence technologies and use their own computing algorithms.

Using a development car called ‘DevBot’, testing for this race series has already taken place at various circuits, including the venues used by Formula E, and the Goodwood hillclimb is the latest test for a technology still in it’s infancy.

Robocar on display at the Autosport International Exhibition, January 2018.

The Robocar has previous made an appearance at Goodwood; it was one of the centrepieces at the last year’s Festival of Speed Future Lab.

The Roborace team will once again be present in the Future Lab, and will offer fans the chance to witness the autonomous run from the immersive 360-degree VR cameras, which will be on board the car.

“We are excited that the Duke of Richmond has invited us to make history at Goodwood as we attempt the first ever fully – and truly – autonomous uphill climb using only artificial intelligence,“ said 2016-2017 Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi, CEO of Roborace.

“I can’t think of a more exciting way to celebrate our Silver Jubilee than to have Roborace attempt the first autonomous race car run up the hill,” added Charles Gordon-Lennox, the Duke of Richmond and Founder of the Festival of Speed.

“Roborace plays an important role in the future of mobility, challenging public perceptions and providing a platform to advance new technologies. This makes them the perfect partner to undertake this significant feat.”

Our team has been working hard preparing #Robocar for a milestone challenge: attempting the first-ever autonomous hillclimb run at this year’s @fosgoodwood! More updates coming soon. #ROBOCARatFOS #Roborace

A post shared by Roborace (@roborace) on

The technical challenge of an autonomous Goodwood hillclimb

Using a dedicated 135kW electric motor at each wheel, it’s claimed the Robocar can produce over 500 horsepower in a vehicle that weighs 1350 kg.

Deep into the ‘brains’ of the car, the data regarding the car’s surroundings is processed by an NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2 computer, and receives inputs from LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), radar, GPS, ultrasonic and camera sensors all around the vehicle.

“The Goodwood hillclimb presents a real challenge for level 4/level 5 autonomous driving systems.” said Sergey Malygin, Chief of Software and AI at ARRIVAL.

“It is a narrow track with complex geometry.  Turns and hills with a great deal of tree coverage mean you can’t rely on GPS / RTK signal for localisation. Use of all advanced sensors, including LiDARs and cameras with deep learning based computer vision methods are needed to perform well at this course.”

As expected, the trials haven’t all gone smoothly.

At last year’s Buenos Aires ePrix, a test run ended with DevBot colliding with one of the barriers at the temporary street circuit, which brought up questions regarding the readiness of the technology.

Whilst the Robocar will be the first to tackle an autonomous run at the Goodwood hillclimb, it’s not the first time an autonomous vehicle has attempted a famous circuit/course.

Audi brought their driverless TTS to Pike’s Peak back in 2010, completing five runs and reaching the summit in 27 minutes. Despite the fact that the best cars and drivers reach the top in around ten minutes, it was an impressive feat on one of the trickiest courses in motorsport.

Title Image: Roborace

Other Images: Motorsport Images

What do you think of an autonomous racing series? Leave your comments below.

Featured Innovation
technical innovation from tata COMMUNICATIONS
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!
The conspiracist

Didn’t McLaren do this back in the early 90’s



They did, and it was as boring then as it is now.

In fact, soon after the FIA went to the completely opposite end of the spectrum and put the driver at the centre of things by banning all the driver’s AIDS. (My iPad auto-capitalises ” AIDS” so clearly AI still has some way to go)


Like it or not. Robotic cars are going to take over the streets in not a distant future.


Wow, Looks fast


Tinfoil hats everyone! So throughout the existence of F1, te question has been asked “who is the best driver?”

If we take the Robocar race concept a bit further, with development etc, imagine the following scenario based on pure data gathered through years of telemetry:

Lewis Hamilton vs Sebastian Vettel vs Jenson Butto vs Fernando Alonso vs Kimi Raikkonen vs Michael Schumacher vs Mika Hakkinen…back as far as we can gather telemetry traces and data; all your World Champions’ data traces over the years, including the probability of making mistakes and the type of mistakes made – all derived from the raw data traces – being fed into the processor…

Imagine now being able to have 24 “World Champion Driver” cars on the grid, withe car driving as it’s programmed “driver” would, in period correct livery, the whole shebang….

Far fetched, of course, possible, maybe…but it would be the only way i will watch a car that goes “wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” when it comes past me….

The future is here…

In the meantime – AUSTRIA!!!! With real live POOOOHS…sorry, i mean PUs….let’s hope we see a proper bunfight between Ferrari and Merc with RB in the mix too; that’s what the heart wants…the head somehow says there may be some broken bits at turn 1 again…


Funny to hear some say that we will no longer own cars and that autonomous pods will drive us to and from work in 5 years time. Yet, this car struggles to drive up a hill.

If that’s hard, imagine how hard it is dealing with other cars, cyclists and pedestrians.

I don’t think those who love to drive have much to fear just yet.


So if it crashes at the start will they call it the Sebastian Vettel edition?


Agree that an autonomous F1-style race series would be boring once the tech is sorted out.

But if you put the autonomous cars in a race series where contact is allowed then it could be a lot of fun. Touring cars would get properly dirty as with no driver to hurt the machines could go all-out. Or put the tech in an old banger and watch a demolition derby, that would be crazy!

But no, I don’t think it’ll be the future of motorsport. The online world is a more realistic option as at least it involves the human element.


But who do you cheer for? The programming team? The designer? The mechanics? This is almost like robot wars off tv but faster.


I don’t know why but I dont care for this at all.


Using motorsport to change our perception? Go away and take your robots with you.


I am annoyed that there are people out there apparently paid to challenge my perception and I would very much like to challenge their perception that they are entitled to challenge my perception!


For those of you that prefer a human driver I suggest you follow this link to get a drive with Lewis. Now some of you might know I am not a Lewis fan but when he does it right I just have to shout about it. So get out your wallets and support a great cause with Lewis




I think it’s an interesting exercise and that Roborace is a series with a lot of untapped potential. I think it would make a great support race for F1. Autonomous cars are coming, whether you like it or not. Yes, there have been a few high profile accidents recently but what the papers don’t tell you is how many accidents autonomous vehicles AREN’T having. How many people are injured or killed in car accidents due to inattention, tiredness, intoxification or reckless driving? A hell of a lot, and that number would fall to virtually zero if autonomous vehicles were the norm (the Uber incident arguably representing inattention on the part of the machine).

With that in mind, how best can the major manufacturers show off their driverless technology? How much could a manufacturer-backed Roborace help accelerate technological development? Probably quite a bit – it’s become fashionable for even quite senior F1 figures to claim F1 has no road relevance, but, for example, just about every Renault and Nissan diesel engine on the road today features near-frictionless piston ring technology derived directly from the Renaultsport F1 programme. It’s happening and F1 would do well to engage it as a sideshow, otherwise Formula E will.


People don’t want to fly in planes without human pilots so why will thy think driverless cars are ok. Yes i know that most modern planes are under computer control most of the time but peope ate reassured rightly or wrongly by pilots.


Pit stops look interesting 🤔😁


Other than the people directly involve in developping these cars, and the ones financing it, l don’t think that it will create much interest passed a couple of races. The good thing is that since you remove the human component, there won’t be any arguing as to who is the best or who bump who? Bit of a waste of money in my book. Marc

Tornillo Amarillo

A manned car versus Robocar, and I suggest to put Alonso in the former!


Who wants to be the front jack man when these things pit for their mandatory tyre change. volunteers. anybody?


Podium Interview…

Silver CPU (sitting in middle, obviously) “It was a bit boring, I turned the clock speed down to 50% after the second lap and fantasized about being a rock star”

Red CPU (on right) “The other CPUs were making too much electrical noise which caused me to lose control and crash into another vehicle, it wasn’t my fault”

Fizzy CPU (on left) “I could be in the middle seat if I had an overclock button”

Seriously…. WHAT IS THE POINT?


I love driving…..!

Wether it be through empty twisty country lanes or on a race track with some competition.

Today is a dark day. I really can’t think of anything worse (you know, other than being kidnapped by Somali pirates or something like that).

Hopefully we’ll find out that people are actually drawn to the human competition amongst the drivers rather than soul-less machines buzzing around a race track.

Imagine a world where you can’t get mad at max or Lewis anymore 😉


The last dark day that I remember was Melbourne 2014. I don’t think I need to mention why that was.

It seems that the world is rapidly racing towards a world where f1 simply isn’t allowed to exist, unless the people in charge grow a spine and buck the tend and simply return f1 to what it needs to be regardless of the socio-political- techno pressures that are being exerted upon the sport from every direction.



It’s getting to the point where watching classic season reviews and onboard footage on YouTube excites me more than an upcoming race that I don’t know the outcome of!

Most of the big decisions that have been made within the sport over recent years have slowly been destroying it (from an entertainment and racing perspective, not necessarily viewing figures) and we as fans usually call it before it happens. Its insulting.

I ain’t giving up just yet but I’m not banking on that spine being grown either.


It never ceases to amaze me how resilient the average f1 fan is, because let’s face it, we have been forced to put up with a lot in the last decade, or so.

Even so, everybody has their limits. My limit was reached in Melbourne 2018.


A number of interesting and valid comments have been made on this thread but judging from the lack of agree ticks few are interested. We may be sleepwalking to the time when the bot cars take over over our lives!


The point at which the human element is removed signifies that it can no longer be claimed as a ‘Sport’. There is no discernible difference in effort, technique or emotion. It just becomes a technical exercise.

Motor interest, motor challenge, motor racing yes, but motor ‘sport’. No.


Technical exercise?

In the future theses thing will be used to transport stuff to places humans can’t/won’t go. So the tech should be advanced,…… but a car that can’t post on Snapchat? I wouldn’t be into that. Where’s the hilarity?


But the bots may soon be passing the Turing Test so we may well see them on social media posting off piste robocar antics. The world is going mad after all.


Looks great, hope it sets a blistering time.


I hope it busts into flames!


Awesome news. I thought the days of perilous roadside race watching were definitely over. Le Mans and Monza in the 50s and 60s, 80s rally driving, those days were just gone forever. But now this! Just imagine: it’ll once again be possible to experience being part of a crowd and have the fear of death instilled into you upon the approach of a vehicle around the next bend!

Don’t miss this unique opportunity window. Autonomous cars will only be unsafe for a short period. The period they will be perceived to be unsafe will only be slightly longer.


Interesting from a science and tech perspective, but I’d hesitate to attach the word “racing” or “sport” to the endeavour.

I’m curious to see its learning curve – how quickly its performance improves on successive runs; where the optimization occurs, and how this compares to a human. Quite fascinating actually, but can’t imagine ever getting excited by watching one in action…


how quickly its performance improves on successive runs

They aired a programme about autonomous race cars here a while back – Guy Martin v The Robocar IIRC. The car doesn’t learn as such – the programmers simply instruct it to increase performance by x% after each run using their judgement, as opposed to it working that out for itself. It was still around 10 seconds off Guys pace and when it stopped between laps for longer than expected, the programmers overlooked the fact the tyres would have cooled and it went straight into the gravel trap at the first corner. The car had no ‘understanding’ or ‘feel’ and just dived into the corner with no chance of stopping [due to cold tyres] because that’s what it had been told to do (I realise those aren’t really the correct terms but hopefully you get my drift). If that programme was anything to judge by the days when an autonomous race car will challenge a human are a very long way off.


Funny note on age and the Kimi debate. John Force in the NHRA Funny Car championship is 69 years of age, has his daughter racing against him. He recently survived, again, a horrible crash after his third engine explosion this year.

Guess better than a computer, or F1 in it’s current form will die even faster than many fear it will. F1 need characters an the history, The future though is going fast in the direction of manufactured and computer driven races, it started years ago already.


You would think that Force would have made way for his kids after the huge crash a few years back that might have killed him. It is interesting that the engines blow up at all since they are completely rebuilt after each run in under 30 mins. The are some vids on you tube including a good one of the Force team which is about the best of the stripdown/rebuild films. The engines only do about one thousand revolutions at full power before being rebuilt. Imagine the NHRA saying only 3 engines per year!


Yup, let’s get that spirit:) The fuel is like dynamite or rather nitroglycerin

Top Tags
SEARCH Innovation