UK announces Autonomous Car Track Day

Automologist MAC makes his case AGAINST autonomous motorsports.

Okay, at the risk of sounding like a complete Luddite, there is no way in the world that autonomous cars should be allowed anywhere near a track day, end of story. However, it appears that some of my compatriots over in the UK have set about organising a track day for autonomous cars. I can almost hear you groaning thinking about yet another invasion by the white-coated boffins into the domain that should only be populated by hairy-chested petrol heads.

As an occasional racer, I cannot think of anything so akin to complete pointlessness as throwing on your racing overalls, clamping on your protective lid, strapping yourself into the cockpit, only to let some soulless computer glide you gracefully around the track; it is about as pointless as putting on a blindfold to go into a strip club.

Okay, so on the face of it, it would appear that the UK Government-backed organisation, known as Innovate UK, is more about technology testing grounds, where professionals and hobbyists alike will be able to try out their self-driving abominations in a safe and controlled environment, where clipping of apexes and the smell of burnt rubber will be strictly absent. And this is a most dangerous precedent.

Just think – today it is just a bunch of computer geeks nattering on and testing their most fabulous algorithm, designed to avoid any contact with obstructions and of course avoid any white knuckle fun, but what is going to happen next? The Goodwood Festival of Automation? Driverless time-attack? Auto-drifting!?!? Computers may think faster than humans, but motorsports is for humans. If you want controlled thrills, take a ride on a roller coaster please.

In a way though, there have already been driverless track days. Audi has successfully climbed Pikes Peak in the US with a Quattro TT Sport and also demonstrated two RS7’s around a number of European circuits, where they proved to be rather adept at clocking quick laps. But was it any fun?

I wonder what I would have made of this advert if I had been around at that time.

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