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Automotive enthusiasts love to debate what the best part of a vehicle is. The looks, the sound, the power, and the connection to the road are all things that keep admirers of motorsport coming back again and again. The outliers of the automotive world are the ones who want more tech in their vehicles. These enthusiasts want more cameras, sensors, electricity, and the abandonment of the archaic ways of fossil fuels. In 2016, the pinnacle of performance racing will begin catering to them.

The debate is over whether electric cars are viable options in the world of motorsports. With the current trifecta of hypercars all offering a hybrid drivetrain or even fully electric drive, electricity has proven with its instant torque and massive performance that the internal combustion engine’s days are numbered.

Today, autonomy has replaced electricity as the polarizing topic among enthusiasts. Many feel that removing the driver removes the need to drive. In 2016, electricity and autonomy are teaming up in a Formula race series. Electric cars without drivers will race at incredible speeds, all without humans or gasoline.

Formula E takes the types of vehicles seen in F1 races and gives them electric power. Not just a hybrid system either, Formula E cars are fully electric. Purists can scoff all they want at electric vehicle, it doesn’t change the fact that the numbers are there; electricity can be faster. Where the 2016 Formula E season differs from other seasons is the new concept of the Roborace.

The Roborace is every bit as amazing as it sounds. Take the incredibly powerful Formula E vehicles and make them autonomous. Yes, in 2016 robot cars will race each without humans, and they will be very fast. Let that sink in for moment as you undoubtedly get overcome with joy at how awesome a Roborace will be.

The biggest automakers use racing programs for multiple purposes. It gives them the option to test out new technology and engineering, which eventually can trickle down into consumer cars. That’s why companies like Porsche, Mercedes, Audi, and other performance icons put so much effort into their racing endeavors. Roborace will give autonomous driving tech companies the chance to sharpen their teeth with real-world performance experience.

Each team in Roborace will have an identical car, but the algorithms and programming for autonomous driving will be up to the teams. Prior to each Formula E race of the season, Roborace cars will compete on the identical tracks and courses used by real Formula E teams. The only major difference between Formula E/Roborace and F1 is the pit stop. In Formula E/Roborace, drivers simply swap into a new vehicle. Most teams will have one or two extra fully charged vehicles waiting in pit lane for the driver to swap into.

One thing is for certain, this is undoubtedly the most exciting type of racing to be announced in recent memory. Seeing computer race electric cars is something that will inspire and invigorate the minds of enthusiast everywhere. If you believe in the technology, the races will be an incredible spectacle. If you don’t believe in the technology, then there is the opportunity for some incredible crashes that doesn’t endanger anyone’s life. Either way, the 2016-2017 Formula 1 season promises to be incredible.

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