Cars 3 will give franchise star Lightning McQueen a new rival to take on, but there’s a larger enemy at play: technology.
In the newest trailer for Cars 3, the focus is on Jackson Storm, a younger and, most importantly, technologically advanced race car. Unlike McQueen, Storm is outfitted with the latest advancements to give him an edge on the racetrack. He has sensors on his body to sense when another car is around him, computers to gauge when he should flip into a different gear and a training background that was built on “high-tech simulators that are programmed to perfect technique and maximize velocity,” according to Disney. Simply put, Storm was designed and built to be unbeatable.
Although this provides McQueen with a new challenge to overcome — and a rivalry for audiences to grasp onto — the feeling of becoming obsolete in the face of new technology isn’t just a fictitious arc writers Kiel Murray and Bob Peterson came up with for the movie. As technology moves toward making drivers less needed than ever before in formula one racing, the question of the sport’s future has been a conversation for fans and drivers alike.
Last November, a new motorsport series debuted called Roborace. The concept was simple: remove the drivers from cars in an era when driverless technology had caught up to conceptions dreamt up by people decades before and let the empty cars race one another. Although fans were skeptical of watching driverless cars zoom around a track, journalists acknowledged that Roborace was able to do something Nascar, Formula One and other series couldn’t: break records.
In an article on Jalopnik, Gizmodo Media’s car-centric blog, race car driver Alex Lloyd pointed out that series like Roborace were going to attract an audience that wanted to see cars achieve things that couldn’t be done with a human behind the wheel.
“Roborace will be a unique platform for experimentation, not just from the perspective of self-driving technology (which will be its focus initially) but of motorsport technologies in general,” Lloyd wrote. “There’s a reason we aren’t breaking speed records at the Indy 500 anymore. It’s not because technology can’t do it, rather the human body can’t.
“That’s where real innovation will derive from, not from silly aero kits or DRS systems, but in a series where man is no longer an obstacle to overcome.”
Even though there’s a level of excitement among some fans in the Nascar and Formula One community over the future of driverless cars and technologically advanced vehicles, some are still hellbent on not removing the one element that makes racing so interesting to watch in the first place: humans.
“Having imperfect humans as the drivers gives the variables that make racing so fun. Some guys race harder and burn up the tires,” one Reddit user in the Nascar subreddit wrote. “Some guys make mistakes and spin or get into another car. Or they just briefly lose control, and fall back a few spots. Taking the drivers out would be like taking 95 percent of the appeal of racing away.”
Cars 3 will examine all of these scenarios. A big part of the movie is McQueen learning that he doesn’t need to be the most advanced car or outfitted with the best sensors and computers to beat other cars, like Jackson, that are more advanced. Even though there aren’t any human drivers in the Cars franchise, Cars 3 will examine one of the most human themes in the franchise thus far.
Cars 3 will be released on June 16.