If autonomous cars are the future, an autonomous racing series called Roborace should be the ultimate exponent of technology. But In a recent test – during the second stage of the Roborace – one of the teams’ car crashed into a wall at the start of a lap.
Roborace took its first steps in 2016, appearing with a competition for autonomous cars, with the aim of accelerating the development of technology so that all models benefit from the most modern aids. Unlike classic races such as Formula 1, in Roborace, the teams’ cars do not just have to comply with technical regulations but are completely identical. They are built on the same platform and have one set of sensors (cameras, radars, LiDAR). The main difference between the cars is in the algorithms that the teams develop themselves.
After many years of evolution and development, this year, Roborace’s second season, called Season Beta 1.1, takes place, as it still has an experimental basis. An engineer from SIT has since taken to Reddit to explain how the incident happened during the race.
They wrote that the actual failure happened way before the moment of the crash, on the initialization lap, in which a human driver takes the car to the start line. During this initialization lap, something happened, which apparently caused the steering control signal to go to NaN, and subsequently, the steering locked to the maximum value to the right.
“When our car was given permission to drive, the acceleration command went as normal, but the steering was locked to the right,” the engineer wrote. “We are looking at the log values and can see that our controller was trying to steer the car back to the left, but the car did not execute the steering command due to a steering lock. The desired trajectory was also good; the car definitely did not plan to go into the wall.”
However, the team is not sure what was the actual cause, but it was an extremely rare event during which there was a short spike in the inputs to the controller.
Roborace set a world speed record for self-driving cars last year, accelerating its fully self-driving car to 282 km/h.