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AI Transportation

Driverless Cars Will Compete -- But Only With Each Other -- In Formula E Races 44

Formula E racing pits single-seat electric cars against each other in high-speed track competition, but the cars -- aside from their powertrain -- are conventional enough, complete with a steering wheel and a human at the wheel. Now, though, the Formula E series will also incorporate self-driving cars. From the article: Ten teams, each with two cars, will square off against each other in hour-long races on the same circuits that the Formula E cars will hurtle around. The cars will be the same as the next in order to get the teams’ developers to focus on creating better algorithms and artificial intelligence to win. It takes inspiration from how the Formula E teams were required to run the same cars in the event’s debut season, which meant there was more focus on the development of battery technology.
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Driverless Cars Will Compete -- But Only With Each Other -- In Formula E Races

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  • No driver will save some weight. Or you can lower the position of more battery so that you get some more charge and better weight distribution. And obviously, without a driver, they can pull more G's in turns, nevertheless still limited by tires and downward force.

    One concern I have is that without a driver, safety will become less of a concern. Obviously, they also don't want to wreck cars that cost millions of dollars, but a wreck would not incur the loss of a human life. (I hope that's important to r

    • A crash at high speed can cause dozens of human deaths if the car becomes airborne and lands on a spectator stand. The higher the speed, the greater the danger.

      I think safety should be a huge concern if they plan to have spectators at races with robotic cars.

      With that said it would be pretty awesome if we could see where Formula One had taken us speed-wise if the driver hadn't been the weakest link. They've been adding rules to slow cars down ever since the early 1970's, so there's 40+ years of technologica

      • A crash at high speed can cause dozens of human deaths if the car becomes airborne and lands on a spectator stand.

        Only if there are spectators in the stands. Really, who want's to watch a bunch of automated machines race each other? You may as well just load up Gran Turismo and watch the demo without playing it.

    • It says the cars will be of the same specification. Theroretically, you can save some weight by not having a driver - more interestingly, you can save space by not providing room for a driver. Maybe that means smaller, more stream lined cars? Maybe it means adding more batteries so they can run longer - adding weight.

      And true, you aren't G restricted on the basis of what a driver can withstand - but the driver isn't the limit of the amount of G cars can currently pull; the rules and restrictions of car desi

      • by orasio ( 188021 )

        But the old saying is "in order to finish first, first you must finish". It will be interesting to see how aggressive different algorithms are, and how they respond to different circumstances. There is always a possibility of an "error in calculation", but the algorithms are unlikely to be out and out reckless, because they won't achieve anything by not finishing.

        The fact that Senna existed proves that saying teaches you nothing .
        He was a lot more aggressive than other drivers, had lots of problems because of that, not just accidents, but managed to get 3 championships.
        I'm pretty sure the reason others are not more like Senna is that they don't want to end their life against a wall. AIs won't care about that kind of thing.

        • Sennas death had nothing at all to do with his approach during races - there were a boat load of factors riding against him on that fateful lap.

        • Aggressive does not equal reckless.

          In every generation there are drivers at the front of the grid that are more aggressive than their competitors - Senna, Schumacher, etc. That they aren't constantly crashing, that they are winning multiple titles, shows that they aren't reckless.

          At the same time, you have the likes of Prost, who became multiple world champion through consistency rather than outright performance.

          No, AIs don't inately have a sense of self preservation - they function as they have been progra

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 29, 2015 @09:52AM (#51021499)

    The winning team will use Rust [rust-lang.org] to program their car.

    Rust is a systems programming language that runs blazingly fast, prevents segfaults, and guarantees thread safety.

            * zero-cost abstractions
            * move semantics
            * guaranteed memory safety
            * threads without data races
            * trait-based generics
            * pattern matching
            * type inference
            * minimal runtime
            * efficient C bindings

    It is a systems programming language so it can be used for systems like artificial intelligence driving a car.

    It is blazingly fast which is what you need when driving fast.

    It prevents segfaults which is good because you don't want a segfault when you are driving!

    It guarantees thread safety which means the fabric on the seats of the car will remain clean and intact.

    It has zero-cost abstractions which will keep the price of the car down.

    It has move semantics which is just what you want from a car: movement!

    It has guaranteed memory safety which is good because you don't want your car to forget where it is.

    It has threads without data races which is critical because it means that there can be no data racism because there are no races.

    It has trait-based generics which are good because they mean that, generically speaking, the car has good traits.

    It has pattern matching which is very important because the car needs to differentiate between what is road and what is not road.

    It has type inference which is good to have because it can infer what is road and what is not road.

    It has minimal runtime which is totally what you want in a race: you want to run it in the shortest time possible!

    It has efficient C bindings which means it's as fast as C because most Rust code actually gets written in C and then glued together using Rust because C is a much more useful, efficient, and faster programming language than Rust is.

  • But will the self-driving cars be 3D-printed on Mars by Elon Musk?

  • Mind Game (Score:5, Interesting)

    by monkeyxpress ( 4016725 ) on Sunday November 29, 2015 @11:00AM (#51021695)

    This is actually a lot more interesting than might first appear. When doing timed laps such as during qualifying, sure, it is pretty much about just optimising a whole bunch of parameters. I would imagine the superior ability of the driverless car to sense grip and slip on each wheel and create a dynamic map of grip around the track would mean it could quite easily beat a human driver without a lot of 'artificial intelligence'.

    However, when wheel to wheel racing it is a whole different story. Unless you have artificial overtaking aids (DRS, boost modes) then overtaking a car that has the same performance as you is essentially a mind game. A common strategy is simply to hound the other driver using the draft to get right on their tail, fill their mirrors, and try to pressure them into making a mistake. This used to be quite common in F1 before we had fuel and tyre restrictions and DRS. It was a real test of a driver's mental strength to have to perform under that sort of direct pressure.

    Another way is to play games with the other driver. For example, on a corner that allows loose racing lines, you can try to trick a car you want to overtake into defending on your weaker line, but then once you've lulled them into believing this is the way they always need to defend, you swap it up. Sometimes this may only get you in position to complete the overtake on a subsequent corner, so these types of moves can be very complex.

    However, perhaps the most psychological part of racing, is simply the 'how crazy is the other driver' effect. Sometimes wheel to wheel racing is all about playing a game of chicken into a corner. The most common way is you dive in and rely on the driver you are trying to overtake giving you space, even if it is border line as to whether racing rules would require them to do so. You basically say, I want the corner, you either hit me and we both go out, or you let me through. This plays out in really interesting ways, for example in F1 Bottas and Raikonen have been in this mind battle for the last few races. They had a run in earlier in the year where Raikkonen made a move on Bottas and they collided. Bottas was out of the race and Raikkonen essentially got his place. In a subsequent race, Raikkonen tried a similar move and Bottas didn't give him any space, causing them to both get taken out of the race. Bottas actually said after the race that if he'd given Raikkonen space then everyone would just try that pass on him, knowing he is a soft touch.

    When we actually have good wheel-to-wheel racing (which sadly F1 has not had for a while now) motorsport does relies heavily on human performance and it's faults. That is still why a lot of fans watch it, and I think this AI car thing really misses that point.

    • With AIs, this takes it to another level. If one AI knows the program the other is running, they can screw over the other one with impunity. "My 'minimum distance from another car' limit is smaller than yours, get off the track." It could be countered by having an AI that tries to detect when another is trying to screw them, but that is likely to have some hilarious miscalculations. Even then, if you have their AI program you can go just under the limit before counter-screwing routines activate.

      In the end,

  • Ok, not at first, because it's a war of the minds of engineers. = Tension!

    But that is not what the majority of people want to see. We could test that for example if someone fires up his/her FEA Application and introduces people to the painstaking art of stress&weight optimization of a critical design.

    I would watch that for hours, but I bet any of my neighbours would.

    Also with control optimization for such driverless cars - to operate near the tipping point when rolling friction tipps to sliding friction

    • Well, then it's not who has the better driver but who has the better programmer. Doesn't really change much.

      In the end, it is ALWAYS a game of human failure. Because in the end, a human makes it.

  • well, it was really unexpected but they actually managed to invent a race where i'm not secretly hoping the cars fly off the track... ok, well maybe just a little.

    • A little? I'm dead certain that wanting to see cars crash and explode is exactly why a lot of the fans go to such events. At least with this they can enjoy cars crash and burn without any feeling of guilt.

  • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Sunday November 29, 2015 @12:16PM (#51021887) Homepage Journal

    The winner will be the car with the most realistic image of a child about to run into the street painted on the back.

    • What makes you think the programs of the cars would give a fuck about the three laws. You are aware that they are part of a story, not actual laws, right?

      • by Cederic ( 9623 )

        I didn't interpret that as an Asimov reference at all.

        Current autonomous car AIs are very much being taught how to recognise small children and avoid running them over.

        I'd suggest on a racecar a child would be a less effective image. A race marshall however..

      • I wasn't referencing the Three Laws, I was referencing the current state of AI in self-driving car technology. It was a joke, but apparently it's flown over everyone's head, it's a shame Slashdot doesn't let you delete comments.
  • It's going to take more then one race to get to the point where there will be an actual winner. Crashes and mishaps will take all the cars off the track before any one crosses the finish line.

    The task of racing is very different then the task of driving. It requires aggression, not caution. Current driverless cars are all about not crashing, and that is a very different problem.

    It's really different. For example, there needs to be a yellow flag mode where cars hold their relative place. When there is an a

    • by pbf ( 98406 )

      With that mindset, the winning team will be the one with the 20mph car. At that speed it will be able to steer itself around the other team's wrecks and finish the race in a day or two... How exciting!

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