City funds robot racing initiative

Cars line up at Killarney to take part in a robot race.

Listening to motorists rev their engines at a traffic light in pursuit of a race may be a thing of the past, as the City of Cape Town and Western Province Motor Club are giving speedsters the opportunity to take their cars to the track with a weekly robot racing initiative at Killarney.

Robot racing is aimed at curbing illegal street racing and lets those with a need for speed race in a controlled setting instead of where they can kill someone.

The robot races are started by a traffic light turning from red to green. All vehicles undergo a basic safety check before being permitted onto the track, to ensure safety and reduce the possibility of crashes.

“In the past, we’ve received feedback that people resort to illegal street races because there are too few events at Killarney.

“So the City has literally put its money where its mouth is by funding these events and taking the frequency from a monthly to a weekly event,” said Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith.

“The pilot event was held in December, with the weekly events kicking off in mid-March. The City’s R450 000 contribution is for a six-month trial.”

It’s free to take part in the robot races, but there is an entry fee of R50 at the gate for spectators and racers. The fee, together with the City’s contribution, covers the cost of employing marshals, security and safety officials, and ensures the presence of medical staff.

According to Des Easom, the executive manager at Killarney International Raceway, a portion of the City’s contribution will be used to cover the cost of putting up noise dampeners to lessen any disturbance to nearby residents.

“These structures have been designed and will be erected under the guidance of the acoustic engineering consultants contracted to the Western Province Motor Club. A portion (of funds from the City) will also be utilised to promote these events and road safety in general via the well known radio personality, Ready D,” said Mr Easom.

“We welcome this joint initiative and the City’s tangible support. We are committed to track and road safety for all users – motorists, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians. At Killarney we offer all the excitement and competition of street racing, but under safe conditions and as a pleasant event experience,” he said.