A self-driving race car drove straight into a wall off the starting line in the world's first autonomous racing series

Roborace/TwitchOne autonomous race car had a rough start at Thursday’s Roborace event.
  • An autonomous race car crashed immediately during a Roborace event on Thursday.
  • The car, fielded by Acronis SIT Autonomous, made a sharp right turn and accelerated into a wall right off the starting line.
  • Roborace is still ironing out the kinks of its racing series, and just started its “Season Beta.”
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Although driver-assistance technology has advanced considerably, we’re still a long way away from cars that can truly drive themselves on public streets. Both Tesla’s Autopilot and Chevrolet’s Super Cruise — the two most advanced driver-assistance systems — require full human attention and can’t be used everywhere.

And a recent mishap at an autonomous racing event showcased just how challenging self-driving technology can be.

Roborace — a new autonomous racing series that’s still in its testing phase — streamed one of its first live events on Thursday, and one car didn’t make it far before crashing into a wall. The vehicle from Swiss team Acronis SIT Autonomous lined up to begin a lap but immediately turned 90 degrees and accelerated directly into a barricade, as seen in the video posted to Twitter below.

And here it is from another angle:

To be fair, Roborace just began what it’s calling its Season Beta, after completing a Season Alpha last year, so these kinds of mishaps and learning experiences are par for the course.

The idea behind Roborace is to have teams each develop their own autonomous-driving software to run on identical vehicles. Currently, Roborace uses a vehicle called DevBot 2.0.

Recently Waymo announced it would begin sending driverless taxis around Phoenix, GM-owned Cruise announced plans to start driverless testing in San Francisco this year, and Tesla released a beta version of its “Full Self-Driving” feature to some drivers. But Thursday’s Roborace crash may serve as a reminder of how much progress still needs to be made when it comes to autonomous vehicles.

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