Roborace could use data from historic motorsport seasons to recreate the driving traits of past Formula 1 champions in its autonomous car races.
Chief strategy officer Bryn Balcombe told e-racing365 that data from F1 outfits could be processed by Roborace teams to generate driverless cars that mimic the styles of past racers, such as three-time champion Ayrton Senna.
He said that reincarnating old heroes would inject an element of ‘human’ personality into the competition, which is set to become the world’s first autonomous racing series.
Roborace made its UK public debut at last weekend’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, where the Robocar made the first fully autonomous ascent of the famous 1.16-mile hillclimb.
“One thing we get asked is can we replicate an existing human driver or a historic human driver,” said Balcombe.
“So, can you put Lewis Hamilton in the simulator and then take that simulator data and then use that to create an AI version of Lewis Hamilton that is then the driver of the car?
“Or even the further extent of can Ayrton Senna come back, as a future AI driver?
“If you look at the data McLaren have about Senna’s driving history, and some of what Williams have as well – you could take that and create what would be a realistic representation of Senna and his driving style.”
Balcombe believes Roborace can be a meeting point between the past, present and future forms of motorsport.
In addition to comparing the historic and modern greats, the software could also be used to see how eSports drivers would fare in a mixed competition environment.
“I think it’s fascinating because you can do exactly the same thing for sim racers,” he said.
“You can tap into the eSports market that’s out there and create a replica of an eSports racer, and put them in the car.
“You have the current generation of drivers, you have the eSports generation, and you have the historic generation, all on the track. They’re all different personalities.”
“The Public Will See Personality”
Balcombe reckons this approach will enable Roborace spectators to associate themselves with the participants, despite the absence of a human driver.
He explained that teams will be able to tweak their cars’ driving styles to effuse the ‘racing personalities’ that are seen in motorsport today.
“When you watch Formula 1, you can’t actually see the face of the driver,” he said.
“The way racing drivers express themselves is by how the vehicle is controlled. When you watch a tennis player, it’s much easier to see their expressions and also the way that they move.
“With a Formula 1 driver, you see it through the way they control their vehicle and the way they interact with another driver. From that, you work out whether they’re aggressive or passive.
“We think the software that’s inside these vehicles will be differentiated. It will be produced by different teams and they will put different weights in there about how aggressive to be or not, or how hard to push.
“From that, the public will see personality. They’ll connect with one team or another team, based on the actions of the vehicle. That’s one way of doing it.”
Roborace is set to continue private testing of the Robocar package before announcing its next public demonstration later this year.