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Driverless technology comes to Formula Student 2018 competition

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Last year's Formula Student winners from Cardiff University. Could future competitions do away with the driver? (Credit: IMechE)
Last year's Formula Student winners from Cardiff University. Could future competitions do away with the driver? (Credit: IMechE)

Artificial intelligence for driverless cars will form part of the annual Formula Student competition at Silverstone in July.

The event, run by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, will see 130 student teams from more than 30 countries competing to build and race the best single-seater racing car.

The cars are judged on their speed, acceleration and endurance, while the teams are tested on their design, costing and business presentation skills. This year marks a debut for FS-AI, a driverless element to the competition.

Some teams will be tasked with developing a cost-effective software package that will allow an AI car to make its own decisions, and learn and improve from its performances. “The fact that we are introducing a new AI element this year is particularly exciting, as AI is already transforming so many industries, including the automotive sector,” said Andrew Deakin, chairman of Formula Student. “This new, exciting element to the competition aims to encourage enterprising students to look to the future by designing the software for a fully autonomous Formula One-style vehicle in a safe environment.”

Deakin praised the competition for providing valuable hands-on experience. “Competitors learn about teamwork, delivering challenging technical targets on time and within a tight budget and pushing the boundaries of what is technically possible,” he said. “Many Formula Student alumni have progressed to work in professional motorsport, and are also highly valued in all sectors of industry, in disciplines such as aerospace, power industries and manufacturing.”

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