The Phantom is a concept for a new era of Motorsports, where full-scale driverless race cars powered by electric motors (or combustion engine) are driven remotely by gamers or by Racing Artificial intelligence (AI) in competitions on some of the world’s most prestigious race circuits.
I’ve been thinking about driverless race cars for some time. I enjoy driving fast cars and follow car racing for both the sport and the technology. However, as an engineer, I have also been thinking of a scenario where the pilot’s life would not be in danger, yet the show would remain the same. I am not proposing something to compete against traditional racing, rather a scenario that would complement the status quo. My scenario would be a driverless racing series where some cars would be remotely controlled by the best drivers in the world – think video game gods. In another category, Phantom would be controlled by Racing Artificial Intelligence.
How it works
The Phantom’s body is a mixture of Formula 1- and Le Mans-series prototypes to achieve an optimal aerodynamic efficiency. The body could be very lean and low, and it would have enough space for efficient Lithium-Air battery packs. The weight target would be 1 250 pounds. The rear wheels would be covered, and the front and rear spoilers would adjust to adapt the aerodynamics of the car in real time. It would tilt up when braking, and tilt down when overtaking and going on straightaways.
There would be two large LCD screen panels on each side of the car to showcase sponsors and rotate ads on the fly based on the target audience. Animated sponsor logos and motion graphics would be projected on them and also on the covered part where the pilot used to be. LED stripes would be used on some body parts to make car look more aggressive and visually appealing. They could also change based on the car’s racing strategy or technical condition. Much of the challenge to engineers creating Formula 1 and Le Mans prototypes is the issue of driver safety. Being driverless, Phantom would allow engineers to focus on outright technical performance without the same restrictions. This should allow for more rapid engineering and AI development.
What it’s used for
The Phantom concept would let us push the cars to their limits without endangering the pilots. I would create an annual online competition open to everyone to find out the best possible drivers for these cars. Drivers would compete for the title, so the championship would be open to anybody with a computer. More exposure means more interest. I would also create races with no remote drivers, meaning an AI would drive the cars. This would improve the technology used in our cars, and it would translate into incredible competition between rivalling AI’s.
This is an opportunity for a larger general population to become involved in the sport. Since the championship is AI based, strategies could be put in place by people who would be able to get involved with their own engineering development, similar to crowd-sourcing, contributing to the advancement of the DRS sport. The next step could be financing the construction of a working proof of concept and/or creating a competition among interested parties. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you’re interested in learning more.
The Phantom’s renderings were produced by Jan Metelka, who is located in the Czech Republic. Jan studied at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. He has also created the images for the Odyssée concept.