Roborace: the Formula One for self-driving cars (Part 1)

Roborace is an all-electric autonomous-car racing series.

Each racing team has programmers who are responsible for customizing the algorithms within the self-driving software that monitors these autonomous vehicles.

Competitions within the series even allow self-driving cars versus human drivers.

Organisers say the AI racers are about 5-10% away from getting to the human level of performance.

Self-driving cars in racing are getting closer to actually becoming a reality.

This is up-and-coming state-of-the-art motor sport is recognized as autonomous racing currently being led by Roborace, a series that has all-electric self-driving race cars.

It’s a competition created to provide each race team with identical cars, having the same powertrain, chassis, and identical self-driving software; however, the teams are responsible for customizing and improving the algorithms that ultimately control the cars and allow them to navigate multiple racetracks on their own.

The company’s prized Robocar, a completely driverless and fully autonomous vehicle, already proved just what it’s capable of at last year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed when it became the first self-driving race car to finish the event’s famous hill climb.

With the inaugural season coming up real soon, Roborace’s chief strategy officer, Bryn Balcombe, shared everything racing fans need to know about the company and this unique new motor sport.

Roborace is a completely new type of motor sport that we’ve been developing for the last 2 and a half years, focusing on the mega-trends that are happening in the automotive industry, so electric, connected, and autonomous technologies. How does motor sport play a role in developing that for the future, showcasing the technology, and building trust with the public.

This year Roborace is planning to introduce Season Alpha – an experimental year, where they’re looking at lots of different formats with lots of different types of competition. Their main drive is to push the advancement in the software.

2020 Formula 1 calendar Update (Part 1)

Formula 1 has announced that the French Grand Prix is the latest event to be outright cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The announcement came after the French government confirmed it would be extending lockdown measures for an additional month to combat the spread of Covid-19. This extension, to “mid-July” means the June 28th event could not go ahead. Organisers confirmed in a statement on Monday morning that the French Grand Prix had been cancelled. It joins the Monaco and Australian GPS as only the third race to be outright cancelled due to the spread of the virus. 

No update has been given on the Austrian Grand Prix, the next round on the calendar, currently due to take place on July 5th.

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, Formula 1 has announced. Scheduled for June 7th, Formula 1 will now look to find another date for later in the year. That brings the total number of races postponed to six, while the Australian and Monaco Grand Prix were cancelled outright. 

Formula 1’s official statement stated that Baku City Circuit (BCC) has officially postpone the Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2020 due to organize on June 5th-7th.

The postponement was agreed upon after extensive discussions among Formula 1, the Government of the Azerbaijan Republic as well as the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). This comes as a direct outcome of the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic and has been depend on the expert suggestion provided by the relevant authorities.

In coming to this conclusion, BCC’s primary concern was the health and well-being of the Azerbaijani people as well as all travelers who are F1 fans, staff and championship participants.

BCC understand its fans disappointment at not being able to enjoy the pinnacle of motorsport race through the streets of Baku this June. To that end, BCC will continue to work closely with Formula 1, the FIA and the Government of the Azerbaijan Republic to manage the situation with a view to inform a new race date later in the 2020/ 2021 season.

Dominant teams of Formula One

McLaren and Williams continued to rule the race in the 1990s. In total, McLaren got 16 titles, including seven constructors’, nine drivers’ in that period, while Williams matched McLaren with 16 titles of their own, including nine constructors’, seven drivers’. But the competition between Prost and Senna ended in 1993 with Prost’s retirement and then in 1994 Senna passed away at Imola. His death was a watershed, in that it led to considerable development in safety standards – no drivers have died at the wheel of an F1 car ever since. The FIA introduced measures to slow the vehicles and increase their safety.

But critics continued to argue the race was more about the technicians and designers than drivers, and like any other sports, a few teams dominated. McLaren, Williams, Renault (formerly called Benetton) and Ferrari won every title in World Championship from 1984 until 2008. The soaring costs of Formula One widened the distance between the big four and the smaller independents. Between 1990 and 2008, there were 28 teams came and went, few making no more than an ephemeral mark.

Among the dominant teams during the 90s, Michael Schumacher and Ferrari won an unprecedented six consecutive constructors’ championship titles and five consecutive drivers’ championship titles. Schumacher was a talented driver but his habit of pushing all rules and sportsmanship to the limit made him a difficult man to acquaintance to, and that allied to his success further caused problems for the sport’s popularity. Viewing figures dropped and concerns developed for the sport’s future given the growing difficulty for any new entrants to make an impression

Championship rules were frequently changed by the FIA with the aim of improving the on-track action and cutting expenses. In 2002, legal towards team orders established in 1950, were banned after several incidents. There were teams manipulated race outcomes, generating negative publicity, most famously the one by Ferrari at the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix. There was tinkering over pit stops, points scoring, engines and tyres.

A brief history of Formula One (Part 3)

In the early 1970s Bernie Ecclestone reorganized the management of Formula One’s commercial rights, turning the sport into an international billion-dollar business. In 1971 he invested in the Brabham team and so gained a seat on the Formula One Constructors’ Association (FOCA) and in 1978 he was voted president. Until Ecclestone, circuit owners controlled many aspects of the game; he persuaded the teams to manipulate their worth and the value of negotiating as a coordinated unit.

In 1979 FISA (Federation Internationale du Sport Automobile) was established and almost immediately clashed with FOCA in terms of revenues and regulations. Matters deteriorated to the lengthen FOCA boycotted a race and threatened a breakaway of the sport. In return FISA removed its sanction from races via the 1981 Concorde Agreement.

In 1980 Alan Jones and the Williams team dominated the sport and in 1981 Nelson Piquet won the title by one point with victory at the U.S Grand Prix. 1982 competition was centered on a rift between Ferrari’s Gilles Villeneuve and Didier Pironi but unfortunate Villeneuve was killed at Zolder. Two months later, in practice for the German Grand Prix, Pironi was severely injured that he could never race again.

From then on turbos, which first introduced in 1977, came to rule the roost. Piquet won his second title in 1983 with Brabham, and Lauda’s half-point win in 1984 heralded the beginning of a period of dominance by McLaren in which they won the drivers’ title seven times out of eight years with Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. The team’s zenith became dominant in 1988 when they won 15 of the 16 races but for the next season turbos were banned, and the relationship between the two drivers went bad rapidly.

To combat the phenomenal power of cars, restrictions were established and eventually turbochargers were prohibited altogether in 1989. In the 1980s electronic drivers aids started to emerge and by the early 1990s semi-automatic gearboxes and traction control became a natural progression. The battle between new technology and the expectation of the FIA to counter accusations that the drivers were less relevant than the boffins, raged throughout the next two decades.

A brief history of Formula One (Part 2)

The cars used considerable technological advances. The first seasons were organized using pre-war cars like Alfa’s 158, featuring front engined, narrow-treaded tyres and 4.5 litre normally aspirated engines or 1.5 litre supercharged. When Formula One regulations issued in 1954 engines were limited to 2.5 litres. Mercedes Benz made major upgrade until they withdrew from all motor sports events in the aftermath of the 1955 disaster at Le Mans. In the late 1950s Cooper introduced a rear-engined car and by 1961 all manufacturers were using them. As an added incentive for the competing teams, a constructors’ championship was introduced to the game in 1958.

An era of British dominance began with Mike Hawthorn’s championship win in 1958, although Stirling Moss had been at the forefront of the competition without ever securing the world title. Between Jim Clark, Jack Brabham, Jackie Stewart, John Surtees, Graham Hill, and Denny Hulme, British and Commonwealth drivers won nine championship titles and British teams won ten constructors’ titles between the period of 1962 and 1973. The famous British Racing Green Lotus, featuring a revolutionary monocoque chassis to replace the traditional design with space-frame, was the dominant vehicle, and in 1968 the team broke new barriers when they were the first to have advertising featured on their cars

In 1970 Lotus’ Jochen Rindt won the drivers’ championship posthumously, the only man be able to achieve such record, underlining the continuing risks. His replacement was Lotus’ No. 1, was young Brazilian racer Emerson Fittipaldi, he then split the next four championships, with Jackie Stewart taking 1971 and 1973 for the new Team Tyrrell and Fittipaldi 1972 and 1974.

The cars became faster and performed better – Lotus again were the innovators when they used ground-effect aerodynamics that enabled enormous downforce and greatly improved of cornering speeds – by the early 1970s the days of private entries were all but over as the costs of racing increased rocketed. Not only that, with the advent of turbocharged cars, speeds and power also rapidly increase.

A brief history of Formula One (Part 1)

Formula One is a popular car racing tournament in which the “formula” refers to a set of rules that all participants and cars manufacturers must follow and was originally and briefly recognized as Formula A. The race can trace its roots date back to the earliest time of motor racing, and developed from the buoyant European racing scene of the years since inter-war. Plans for a Formula One drivers’ championship began in the late 1930s but were postponed during the onset of World War Two.

SUZUKA, JAPAN – OCTOBER 13: Start during the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on October 13, 2019 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Peter J Fox/Getty Images)

In 1946 the idea was reignited and in that season the first races were organized and the following year the decision was made to officially host a drivers’ championship. It took until 1950 for the details to be rolled out and in May 1950 the first world championship race was organized at Silverstone – the first F1 race had been hosted a month earlier in Pau. Only seven of the twenty something Formula One races that year counted towards the title but the championship was up and running. Even as more races were included in the championship, there were countless number of non-championship Formula One races. Non-championship races continued throughout the 80s until 1983 when rising costs made them unprofitable.

There were no shortage of privateers – drivers who compete on their own terms and who bought and raced their own cars. Nonetheless, the formula was prevalent and dominated by major pre-war manufactures such as Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, and Mercedes Benz. Although Giuseppe (“Nino”) Farina got the inaugural title, the key drivers in the 1950s was Juan Manuel Fangio who got the drivers’ championship many times in 1951, 1954, 1955, 1956 and 1957 using cars of five different manufacturers.

It was not an easy start. In 1952 and 1953, there were lack of manufacturers joined which meant the authorities ran races to Formula Two regulations. In which, Alberto Ascari won the championship in both years. Of the 20 manufacturers joined the race in 1950, most were soon forced out by the high cost. Only Ferrari have competed since the off. The death toll in races was gruesome in which there were 13 drivers died in F1 cars in the first decade.