Another day. Another challenger. Only this time, a Tesla Model S is being challenged to a hell-for-leather drag race by the world’s first autonomous or driverless racing car.

Ninety minutes after Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Sept. 11 tweeted that the Model S broke a record at Laguna Seca, Roborace responded with a full-on challenge to Tesla and its electric vehicles (EVs): “When do you want a race?”

Roborace is a competition among autonomously driving, electric racing cars. It aims to be the first global championship for electric AI cars.

Musk hasn’t replied and it’s probably with good reason. Robocars, which are now in its second generation, are designed and built from the ground-up as electric racing cars. The same can’t be said for the Tesla Model S, X and Y, which are all passenger vehicles.

Robocar is the world's first purpose-built autonomous racing car. It’s totally operated without human-interaction, and relies on artificial intelligence (AI) along with data compiled by GPS and radar systems. This AI racer depends on a variety of sensors to sense its racing environment. Among these are GPS systems, LiDAR, ultrasonic sensors and machine vision cameras that pick up and assess the car’s surroundings.

Robocar development began in 2016 with a test vehicle named DevBot. This first-gen racer has since morphed into a much improved version, DevBot 2.0. It’s unclear at this point if DevBot or DevBot 2.0 will be the machine that faces whichever Tesla EV Musk wants to throw at it.

Both DevBots are far faster than any production Tesla. DevBot has hit speeds of almost 300 km/h (190 mph) and are powered by four electric motors generating a combined 500 horsepower.

In contrast, the fastest Tesla production car is the Model S P85D a dual-motor all-wheel-drive EV with a governed top speed of 249 km/h. Fortunately for Tesla, the Tesla Roadster can do 400 km/h. Might the Roadster take on Robocar instead?

DevBot first raced in public at the Formula E pre-season tests in Donington Park in August 2016. In 2017, two DevBot cars raced against each other autonomously. Unfortunately, one of these vehicles crashed during the race.

At the Berlin ePrix, Roborace held the Human + Machine Challenge. This was the first race for combined teams of human drivers and AIs using a pair of DevBots.

The first racing season for these AI racers is called Season Alpha and it first race took place July 26 in Monteblanco, Spain. That race saw DevBot2.0 racers from Team Arrival and Technical University of Munich battle it out in the first-ever autonomous race at the first #SeasonAlpha. 

Season Alpha will take place at different locations in Europe and North America. Its aim will be to test several competition formats using the new DevBot 2.0.