Ilya Shimchik, Team Manager at SIT Autonomous, the driving development team at the Schaffhausen Institute of Technology, spoke about the future of the Roborace and explained how such a unique motorsport team works.
Shimchik, who develops software for Roborace, offered an interview to the Italian medium, quotidianomotori, in which he assured that the series is a fresh and innovative project that has a lot of potential to grow.
“Roborace is a championship that, when it reaches its final version, will see high-performance and fully autonomous prototypes compete, designed, developed and controlled remotely by different teams,” said Shimchik.
He pointed out that it is an initiative to watch because it will be held on the same tracks as Formula E and it is a project that attracts many young audiences.
The start of an innovation
Roborace, for Shimchik, started about 5 or 6 years ago, when the championship was announced and he became interested along with other members who are still part of the team.
“I felt that Roborace and autonomous driving were necessary and started looking for sponsors. Later, the desire to be part of Roborace turned into a small team that was soon discovered by SIT, and is now part of SIT’s self-driving competitions,” said.
Shimchik explains that Roborace is a totally software-related competition, so within each team there are software developers, each of whom works on the car and the guide.
“Actually, we can say that the daily routine of a Roborace team is the same as that of any software developer: they wake up, go to the computer and start working on the code, or they communicate with the team, discussing what develop and what function to focus on.”
He stressed that Roborace’s life does not include hard training, but “it is more like a group of nerds who come out of the virtual world to take him a bit into the real world.”
“We seem more fascinating because there are races, but before the races there is software development,” adds Shimchik, who compares himself to a “normal” developer of websites or applications, with the difference that the focus of each Roborace engineer is the car and software for autonomous driving.
He also added: “A nerdy life that combines multiple elements: classic motorsports, software development and video games. A Roborace development team, in effect, combines these three things, appealing to both motorsport enthusiasts, because the end result is a race on the track; both players, because they are similar, in development, to a video game.”
He indicated that the difference is that the video game ends in the cloud, the SIT Autonomous team software designed by Ilya Shimchik and his colleagues is used to control real and physical objects.
For young audiences
Video games are a bit of a key to understanding Roborace development teams. Starting with the fact that SIT Autonomous and the team have a real Twitch channel, where they broadcast their races and projects.
Like today’s gamers, and after all, Twitch was born with this goal in mind. As Ilya Shimchik says, they themselves are a young team, aiming to change the future, and not just competitions. SIT themselves are quite a young university as they were founded in 2019 and the audience that follows it, also thanks to Twitch, is mainly young.
“Much of our target audience is young, and those who enjoy this competition also love video games and Twitch streaming. This is what differentiates us from the classic competitions”, he said.
Shimchik comments that in order to get closer to the public and emphasize the link with Roborace video games, the upcoming events intend to be more interactive.
Roborace for the development of autonomous driving
If, on one hand, software development unites Roborace with an interactive and augmented reality video game, on the other hand some elements link it to Formula 1.
Starting from the development of autonomous driving, which is also useful to improve that destined for consumer cars, like Formula 1 it is a laboratory in which technologies are developed that are then used for production cars.
Shimchik considers the growth that his team has had of great importance. “We just started and I thought that after the first event we would disappear. In fact, we grew fast and now we can compete with other good teams.
“I believe in a good future for Roborace and I think we will become a very interesting competition. It is now a ‘Beta Season’, we are working to attract many people, while in 10 years we could be a league full of fans and collaborate in the development of autonomous driving, test our technologies and innovations in Roborace races and use them in public roads, to train drivers,” he concluded.
Written by I Jhonattan González