Autonomous vehicles are considered to be a key component of future individual mobility, but only large automakers, megasuppliers and tech giants such as Apple and Google have the money and the development expertise to create and test self-driving cars. The high cost has made it difficult for a number of smaller suppliers, universities, regulators and governmental agencies to become serious players in this crucial part of the industry. To address this problem, a small Italian engineering company has created a styling model of a self-driving racecar that, if properly financed and further developed, would allow a much larger and diverse mix of companies to play a role in the creation of autonomous vehicles.
“The TorQ hints at an entirely open-source autonomous driving racecar that can ‘democratize’ the research and testing of self-driving vehicles beyond large automakers, megasuppliers and tech giants,” Mike Robison, CEO and creative director at ED Group, told Automotive News Europe.
Robinson, a 59-year-old, California-born car designer who says he was lured to Turin in 1979, claims that Italy is where Europe’s first autonomous car was built. “With the Lancia Nea concept unveiled in 2000, Italy was at the forefront of autonomous driving research and testing and then nothing more [happened],” said Robinson, who was design director at the Fiat Group subsidiary when the Nea debuted. Robinson, who also penned the Lancia Ypsilon minicar and Thesis flagship sedan, moved to Italian coachbuilder Bertone in 2004 because he was frustrated by Fiat’s decision to abandon all the proprietary technologies it had developed for the Nea concept. Robinson, who has also worked for Ford, Volvo and the Fiat brand, joined ED Group in 2014.