Autonomous Car Race

Autonomous Car Race

The technology nerd in me thinks this is incredibly awesome.

The racing fan in me thinks this is incredibly boring.

I suppose if that’s the biggest conflict/dilemma I face this week, I’m having a pretty great one. :smiley:


Agree 100%. From a technological point of view…this is really awesome. It comes down to who can write the best software as opposed who’s the best driver. Completely different skill sets.


When I was first learning to write computer code back in the late 1970’s, my college professor had us write two different programs to pass his course.

One was a blackjack game that had to work three different ways. One way was it would play itself, being both the dealer and player, it had to also work with a human playing the part of the dealer or the part of player. The hardest part of this project was ensuring the program followed all the rules.

But the most fun project was to write a game of Battleship. In this case, the program had to play itself, and play a human, it also had to interface with another computer and play against another program. That meant that we, the programmers, were the “race car drivers” as we had to write the logic that would select the next square based on previous hits and misses, looking for a pattern that might wipe out your opponent…

Back then, the only output was a scrolling screen with a square address (ie: B-4, A-7, etc…) and the next line outputting Hit or Miss. If you got a hit, the buzzer would beep, and that was really it.

Now, there was no comparing the Battleship game to the car race. The two computers played the game so fast, all the hits were just one short beep and it was over in just one or two seconds…

But, back then, this was just as exhilarating as any neck and neck race…

As for the Autonomous Car Races; I would imagine the race is little different than a Race of Champions (ROC) race where the drivers go through a series of head-to-head races in identical cars. Where the winners just happens to be the luckiest to be in the front. Since these drivers are all “champions” they do not make many mistakes and the race looks more like “follow the leader…”

Reminiscent of the old movie, “War Games…”

1 Like

As a academic exercise, this is interesting. As a race fan, I’d rather watch paint dry.

I watched some E racing (sim racing with human drivers) during the pandemic… That was actually far more exciting to watch than I anticipated. The human element adds randomness to the fight that would not be seen with computer controlled cars.

The best drivers seem to repeal the laws of physics at times to make passes that a computer would NEVER try. Alex Zanardi’s pass in the grass in an IndyCar at Laguna Seca comes to mind. Nigel Mansell’s pass exiting the tunnel at Monaco. ANY pass by Gilles Villenueve!

Yeah, ROC isn’t my favorite version of motorsport either. But it still has the advantage that it gives you humans to root for.

In some of the more nerdy discussions I’ve had with people speculating on the future of AI, I’ve said that I suspect once we get true, thinking AI rather than the advanced-Eliza junk we have now, robots will eventually take over most jobs. But there will be some jobs they’ll never have, and those are the jobs where the entire point of the job is that a human is doing it.

No one’s going to want to watch robot ice skating in the Winter Olympics. No one’s going to want to watch Les Mis performed by androids. And once the newness wears off, no one’s going to want to watch a bunch of fast Roombas circle a race track. :wink: