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MWC: First driverless electric race car takes stage

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Roborace this week revealed the world’s first driverless electric racing car, The Robocar, live on stage at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The futuristic car was unveiled on stage by Denis Sverdlov, Roborace CEO alongside Daniel Simon, Roborace Chief Design Officer. They were delivering a keynote address on the evolution of autonomous vehicles, showing how Roborace is a platform for the world’s best engineers to advance the software that will change our roads for the better.

“This is a huge moment for Roborace as we share the Robocar with the world and take another big step in advancing driverless electric technology,” said Sverdlov. “It was very important for us that we created an emotional connection to driverless cars and bring humans and robots closer together to define our future. The progress with Devbot (the development version of Robocar) on track and building the Robocar in less than a year has been extraordinary and we cannot wait to continue the journey of learning with the Robocar.”

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Daniel Simon is the automotive futurist who creates vehicles for Hollywood sci-fi movies ,including Tron Legacy and Oblivion. Robocar weighs 975kg and measures 4.8m long and 2m wide. It has 4 motors 300kW each, 540kW battery, is predominantly made of carbon fibre and will be capable of speeds over 320kph. The car uses a number of technologies to drive itself including 5 lidars, 2 radars, 18 ultrasonic sensors, 2 optical speed sensors, 6 artificial intelligence (AI) cameras, and GNSS positioning. It is powered by Nvidia’s Drive PX2 brain, capable of up to 24 trillion AI operations per second, to be programmed by the teams’ software engineers using complex algorithms.

“Roborace opens a new dimension where motorsport as we know it meets the unstoppable rise of artificial intelligence,” said Shimon. “While pushing the boundaries of engineering, we styled every single part of the Robocar. We take special pride in revealing a functional machine that stays true to the initial concept shared, a rarity in automotive design and a testament of our determination. It’s a great feeling to set this free.”

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Roborace provides an open AI platform with fixed hardware for companies to develop their own driverless software and push the limits in an extreme and safe environment. The series is designed to be a competition of intelligence, so all teams will use the same Robocar. By ensuring the hardware is consistent, all efforts will be focussed on advancing the software.

The Robocar provides a platform for high profile brands to play a role in redefining tomorrow’s cities through technology. The launch car’s livery includes the logos of Lego, Visa, DHL, Allianz, Nvidia, Charge and Michelin.

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The ‘brain’ of the Robocar, the NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2, uses AI to tackle the complexities inherent in autonomous driving. It utilises deep learning for 360-degree situational awareness around the car, to determine precisely where the car is and to compute a safe, efficient trajectory.

“Roborace and NVIDIA today push the boundary to accelerate the development of deep learning systems for safer passenger and commercial vehicles,” said Rob Csongor, Vice-President & GM of automotive for NVIDIA.

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Roborace has been performing demonstrations with its more functional looking development cars, known as Devbots. In their last outing, the cars performed a world first as Roborace became the first company to put two driverless cars on display simultaneously on a custom-built city street track at Formula E’s ePrix in Buenos Aires. Roborace will continue to use DevBots for demonstrations and testing, introducing the Robocar into public displays during 2017 with two Robocars taking to the track together later this year.

* Follow Roborace at YouTube.com/Roborace, Facebook.com/Roborace, and @roborace on Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

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Why sports cars make us feel good

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Forget romance, fine dining or an epic boxset binge – new preliminary research reveals that driving a sports car on a daily basis is among the best ways to boost your sense of wellbeing and emotional fulfilment.

The study measured “buzz moments” – peak thrills that play a vital role in our overall wellness – as volunteers cheered on their favourite football team, watched a gripping Game of Thrones episode, enjoyed a passionate kiss with a loved one or took an intense salsa dancing class. Only the occasional highs of riding a roller coaster ranked higher than the daily buzz of a commute in a sports car.

Working with neuroscientists and designers, Ford brought the research to life with the unique Ford Performance Buzz Car: a customised Ford Focus RS incorporating wearable and artificial intelligence technology to animate the driver’s emotions in real time across the car’s exterior. 

Watch the video here https://youtu.be/AFpt6jziFsU

“A roller coaster may be good for a quick thrill, but it’s not great for getting you to work every day,” said Dr Harry Witchel, Discipline Leader in Physiology. “This study shows how driving a performance car does much more than get you from A to B – it could be a valuable part of your daily wellbeing routine.”

Study participants who sat behind the wheel of a Ford Focus RS, Focus ST or Mustang experienced an average of 2.1 high-intensity buzz moments during a typical commute; this compared with an average of 3 buzz moments while riding on a roller coaster, 1.7 while on a shopping trip, 1.5 each while watching a Game of Thrones episode or a football match, and none at all while salsa dancing, fine dining or sharing a passionate kiss. 

For the research, Ford took one Focus RS and worked with Designworks to create the Buzz Car:

From concept, design and installation to software development and programming, the Buzz Car took 1,400 man-hours to create. Each “buzz moment” experienced by the driver – analysed using a real-time “emotional AI” system developed by leading empathic technology firm Sensum – produces a dazzling animation across almost 200,000 LED lights integrated into the car. The Buzz Car also features:

  • High-performance Zotac VR GO gaming PC
  • 110 x 500-lumen daylight-bright light strips
  • 82 display panels with 188,416 individually addressable LEDs

Driver state research

Researchers at the Ford Research and Innovation Center in Aachen, Germany are already looking into how vehicles can better understand and respond to drivers’ emotions. As part of the EUfunded ADAS&ME project, Ford experts are investigating how in-car systems may one day be aware of our emotions – as well as levels of stress, distraction and fatigue – providing prompts and warnings, and could even take control of the car in emergency situations.

“We think driving should be an enjoyable, emotional experience,” said Dr Marcel Mathissen, research scientist at Ford of Europe. “The driver-state research Ford and its partners are undertaking is helping to lead us towards safer roads and – importantly – healthier driving.”

Activity Buzz Moments *
Roller Coaster 3
Driving 2.1
Shopping 1.7
Game of Thrones 1.5
Football Game 1.5
Kissing 0
Salsa Dancing 0
Dining 0

* Average number of high-intensity buzz moments per participant

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Car that sees round corners

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Jaguar Land Rover is leading a £4.7 million (approximately R79 million) project to develop self-driving cars that can ‘see’ at blind junctions and through obstacles.

Britain’s biggest carmaker is leading a project called AutopleX to combine connected, automated and live mapping tech so more information is provided earlier to the self-driving car. This enables automated cars to communicate with all road users and obstacles where there is no direct view, effectively helping them see, so they can safely merge lanes and negotiate complex roundabouts autonomously.

Chris Holmes, Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Research Manager at Jaguar Land Rover said: “This project is crucial in order to bring self-driving cars to our customers in the near future. Together with our AutopleX partners, we will merge our connected and autonomous research to empower our self-driving vehicles to operate safely in the most challenging, real-world traffic situations. This project will ensure we deliver the most sophisticated and capable automated driving technology.”

Jaguar Land Rover is developing fully- and semi-automated vehicle technologies, offering customers a choice of an engaged or automated drive, while maintaining an enjoyable and safe driving experience. The company’s vision is to make the self-driving car viable in the widest range of real-life, on- and off-road driving environments and weather.

AutopleX will develop the technology through simulation and public road testing both on motorways and in urban environments in the West Midlands. Highways England, INRIX, Ricardo, Siemens, Transport for West Midlands and WMG at the University of Warwick join the AutopleX consortium, which was announced as part of Innovate UK’s third round of Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Funding in March 2018.

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