Driverless ‘Roborace’ car makes street track debut in Marrakech

Published 4:38 AM EST, Fri November 18, 2016
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Story highlights

Driverless electric racer completes successful track test in Marrakech, Morocco

Planned Roborace series will see autonomous cars compete at Formula E ePrix weekends

(CNN) —  

It is a car kitted out with technology its developers boldly predict will transform our cities and change the way we live.

The autonomous “DevBot #1” took a giant leap forward in Morocco recently, making its debut on a street track at the Formula E Marrakech ePrix.

The battery-powered prototype is being tested for Roborace – a proposed race series where driverless cars will compete on temporary city circuits.

“It’s the first time we’ve run the Devbot in driverless mode on a Formula E track in the middle of a city street,” Roborace’s Justin Cooke told CNN.

“It’s so exciting for the team who put hours and hours of work in. These guys were up to 1-2 a.m. in the morning developing a technology that no one else in the world is able to do at this speed and in these complicated environments.”

Read: Electric race car showcases driverless future

Using a variety of sensors – including GPS, radar and ultrasonics – allied to sophisticated computer programs, the car learns how to navigate a track at speed avoiding all obstacles.

“What we are doing is at the forefront of technology right now,” says Cooke, who is also CMO of Kinetik – an investment company founded by Russian businessman Denis Sverdlov which is providing financial backing for the project.

“There are two or three kinds of space races, if you will – some people are going to Mars, we’re developing robotic cars and I think it’s probably one of the most, if not the most exciting space in the world right now.”

After the successful 30-minute test in Marrakech – this year’s host city for the United Nations climate change conference (COP22) – Cooke say the company will next try racing two cars together on track with the eventual aim of having up to 10 cars competing at every Formula E ePrix weekend.

“To be here at COP22 when we are celebrating an electric future, a driverless future – it’s the perfect time for Roborace,” Cooke enthuses.

Visit cnn.com/motorsport for more Formula E news and features

“More than anything we want people to be excited about the technology because it’s going to change our lives, it’s going to transform our cities.”