We aren't talking about Pixar's movie cars either as the first autonomous race is set to be held on October 23rd 2021. This is a first of its kind race featuring all autonomous vehicles on the Indiana Motor Speedway. The main goal of this race is to push the autonomous car industry further by giving bright young minds a chance to work with the technology.

Who Is Involved?

In May 2020, the Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC) announced that 37 universities from 11 countries on four continents, including 14 U.S. states, had registered to compete. Teams are composed of undergraduate and graduate students, PhDs, faculty and industry mentors, concentrating in AI and machine learning, computer science and robotics.

This number is now around 30 teams that have dedicated themselves to the race. While the task at hand is difficult, the rules are simple: university teams must develop AI to drive a modified Dallara IL-15 racecar 20 laps around the 2.5-mile famed IMS oval (50 miles) and the first team to cross the finish line, wins $1 million. 

What About The Vehicle?

The official vehicle that all of the teams will use is a modified Dallara IL-15 racecar, which has been retrofitted with hardware and controls by the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) Deep Orange 12 students to enable automation.

 

While the vehicles are ahead of the times for auto driving they will still be powered by ICE engines with roughly 350 horsepower, which will make them capable of reaching the desired speeds of around 180mph. Students are tasked with determining the sensor types and locations to provide the vehicle with computer vision at high speeds.

Technologies include, but are not limited to, radars, lidars, cameras, and GPS sensors. Integration of these sensors on the vehicle is also a difficult challenge since vibration levels may be high and the presence of sensors will influence the aerodynamics of the vehicle. 

How is the race going to take place?

While this has been in the works for awhile there are several events happening leading up to the big race. Round 1 is set to begin in February and will continue with several hackathon events leading up to the first Simulation race in May. Track practice with the vehicles themselves will begin from June to late October until the main event race on the 23rd.