As part of the annual CES electronics fair in Las Vegas, the Indy Autonomous Challenge has completed its most adventurous competition to date around the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The IAC is a competition for the further development of the technology for fully autonomous vehicles with the aim of improving the safety and performance in motorsport on closed circuits as well as in consumer cars on public roads.
The cars themselves consist of a modified Dallara Indy Lights chassis that is equipped with numerous sensors instead of controls that are normally operated by a human driver.
Lidar, radar, GPS and optical cameras are all equipped in every identically built car, and the software that uses these sensors and runs on the on-board computers is written by nine university-led teams with members from eight countries.
Juncos Hollinger Racing, which will compete in IndyCar for the entire 2022 season, is responsible for building and maintaining the fleet of unique vehicles, which, when all the technology is added, can exceed $ 1 million.
The software that powers every car is designed in such a way that it is completely autonomous and independently reacts to the environment and situation of the car. The vehicles may not be controlled remotely from the pit lane apart from a target speed sent to the vehicle.
During the early afternoon time trial, each car lapped the 1.5 mile route as fast as possible, with the best cars going over 270 mph.
Then the competitors entered the second phase of the challenge, in which two cars hit the track at the same time and had to overtake each other at increasingly faster speeds.
The passes on the track were the first to be completed by autonomous vehicles on a high-speed racetrack and marked a significant moment in emerging technology.
There were some issues as the prototype software couldn’t adapt to all situations of the day and a car hit the guardrails even though the competition was mostly smooth.
Ultimately, the PoliMove team prevailed against TUM Autonomous Motorsport in the final, with the latter losing control and spinning through the infield after being overtaken while driving at over 250 km / h.
As a reward for their performance, the students of the Politecnico di Milano and the University of Alabama were able to take home the grand prize of 150,000 US dollars.
A schedule for future competitions has not been announced, but the IAC plans to continue hosting events to push autonomous driving technology to new limits.