Thursday, February 22, 2024

What autonomous car races with university teams will look like

An event called the Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC) has been announced. The competition consists of a race with autonomous cars that are all mechanically identical. But with a distinguishing feature, it is the software of each team that will provide a competitive advantage.

In recent years, several attempts have been made to launch autonomous car racing (Roborace, for example). Presently, as part of the CES 2021 technology fair, they have announced a recent meeting of this kind called the Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC). It will be a race of autonomous vehicles with university teams and various specifications. The cars are all mechanically identical and, the software of each group should give a competitive advantage.

The race will be held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (home of the IndyCar Series, NASCAR Cup Series, and more) with a qualifying race in May 2021 during the Indy 500 weekend. The final race will take place on October 23, 2021.


Participants include 30 teams from public and private institutions around the world. Organizers say the contest goal is to encourage students to “imagine, invent and test a new generation of automated vehicle software and inspire the next generation of STEM talent. The prize for winning the race is $1 million. It will also be additional prizes awarded to winners of simulation and hacker races.


At the technology fair, they presented the IAC model car based on the Dallara IL-15 chassis, powered by a turbocharged Mazda MZR-R four-cylinder engine. Precisely, to ensure a level playing field, each participant will receive a model of that car. Then, they will have to create autonomous software that will take that car around the track.


With a racing car chassis designed by the Italian company Dallara, they will add sensors and controls, allowing it to operate autonomously. It is expected that this experience can demonstrate the success of this type of event so that autonomous racing can grow.


Last year, for example, in a Roborace demonstration, an autonomous car hit a wall. This company has organized the world’s first extreme competition of driverless AI development teams. Keep in mind that these are races in which there is no full autonomy, as the car does not make decisions on its own; but is driverless. And it is also remotely controlled by advanced AI software.


Its first event was at the English circuit of Thruxton, where a great show of autonomy in races was expected. Roborace is the first competition that challenges autonomous vehicles of the proper size, with a presence in the Twitch platform where it transmitted its first event. In which teams from the United States, United Kingdom, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland participated.

A few years ago, in 2017, the company, during Formula E, conducted such a test in Argentina, which also ended with an accident (where there were no injuries). While the Buenos Aires E-Prix was taking place, Roborace chose this competition; to showcase the new category of driverless cars, effectively conducting its first test.

The race was disputed by vehicles DevBot 1, in red, and DevBot 2, in yellow. The latter got confused at turn 11 of the Buenos Aires layout and crashed into the walls at the foot of Fuente Nereidas, in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Puerto Madero.

Undoubtedly, there is a lot of work to be done to create the perfect autonomous racing car. This type of call will positively inspire great minds to work on the autonomy of racing vehicles.