America’s First Autonomous F-1 Race Will Take Place At Indy Motor Speedway Next Fall
Fri, 07/24/2020 – 18:25
Next fall more than 36 universities will be racing at the “Indy Autonomous Challenge” – an all autonomous race that will be held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race is a 20 lap head to head contest with a $1.5 million cash prize at stake. The purpose of the race is to help advance autonomous driving, according to WSJ. We’ll tune in for the same reason we watch most other motor sports – to see if anyone crashes.
Among the participants are some of the worlds most prestigious engineering schools, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, and the Graz University of Technology in Austria.
Teams are responsible for developing their own “neural nets, computer vision and other artificial intelligence systems” for the race. All teams will be using the same, extremely badass looking Dallara Automobili IL-15 racing car, shown in the photo below.
Matt Peak, a managing director at nonprofit Energy Systems Network, said: “Self-driving cars have so much potential, but their commercialization efforts are slow; the technologies are still expensive.” He hopes the race will help further emerging technologies in autonomous driving.
Race speeds are expected to approach 200 mph, putting the AI responsible for driving through the test of professional racing conditions.
Dr. Madhur Behl, an assistant professor at the University of Virginia said: “To us, racing is a proving ground. It’s the stress test for AI, for autonomous vehicles.”
The teams signed up last year and are prepping for a simulation of the race in preparation for the full race in February 2021. The simulation, built by a company called Ansys, will help the teams test their software and will provide data for the teams to use to improve their AI.
Ajei Gopal, Ansys’s president and chief executive, said: “We can create, with physics, multiple real-life scenarios that are reflective of the real world. We can use that to train the AI, so it starts to come up to speed.”
Peak commented: “Real students are putting their minds, passions, personalities, energies into this and working behind the scenes in ways that you could not imagine. We have no doubt they are going to be the industry leaders in years to come.”
He concluded: “I certainly think this won’t be the last autonomous race that we will be seeing.”
For wider adaptation, experts still believe that autonomous driving will require faster connectivity standards than 5G and further research. But this race could be the next step in the process – or at the very least, very fun to watch.
We wonder how long it’ll be – or how much popularity and news coverage the event will have to get – before Elon Musk finds a way to butt in to try and steal the spotlight…