Is THIS what driverless racecars should look like? | Top Gear
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Is THIS what driverless racecars should look like?

As we wait for Roborace to happen, someone’s designed an alternative

Published: 08 Nov 2017

Much like autonomy on our roads, autonomy on our race tracks feels inevitable. It’s probably likely to happen far sooner, too, given there are no roundabouts, four-way junctions or tricky regulations for the computers to learn.

With that settled, it’s time to decide what form driverless racecars should take. Losing the need to house and cocoon a full person naturally gives designers a chance to free their imaginations more than normal, and what we’ve got so far is Roborace, which will support the electric Formula E series in the near future.

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The Roboracer’s design is certainly unconventional, with its wheel arches its highest point and a uniform height to the bulk of the car. That’s possible without a cockpit, but it does make it a little tricky to get our heads around after over a century of car-shape convention. So what you see above is an alternative. Meet the N.01 Autonomous Race Car Concept.

Designed by Fernando Pastre Fertonani, it's also only as tall as its wheel arches. But it’s the design that goes on beneath and between them which separates it from the Roborace car. There’s proper sculpturing, which to us recalls some classic land speed record cars, like the old Bluebird CN7. The elongated fin that leads to the rear wheels is pure Le Mans prototype, meanwhile. It’s still wild, but there are nods to car culture that might make it a bit easier to accept.

There are no specs for the N.01, as it’s pure design fantasy for now. But would you prefer to watch a grid of these than Roboracers? Or will autonomous racing be more exciting if it allows contrasting designs, as well as driving algorithms, to battle each other on the same grid?

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