Motorsport Out in Front in Race for Autonomous Vehicles

We know that a fully autonomous, self-driving car is a goal of many in the automotive industry. While the sight of such vehicles on public roads may be some time off, the technology is gaining much more traction under the controlled conditions that govern track racing and motorsports.

Case in point is this, an autonomous racecar from Italian company Dallara.

Dallara is the sole racecar supplier of the Indy Lights series race series in the U.S., and the company has modified its IL-15 racecar for the Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC), an event to be held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on October 23, 2021.

The IAC is a $US1.5 million prize competition among universities, each of which will run a modified, autonomous, Dallara.

The teams will compete head-to-head at Indianapolis and, according to organisers, more than 500 undergraduate and graduate students, PhDs and mentors who excel in artificial intelligence software have responded to the challenge, representing 39 universities in 11 countries on four continents and 14 U.S. states.

The primary goal of the IAC is to advance technology that can speed the commercialisation of fully autonomous vehicles and deployments of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS).

The modified Dallara is retrofitted with hardware and controls to enable automation. Components include on-board computing, vehicle-to-vehicle communications, perception systems, high-end graphics processing units, drive-by-wire, and artificial intelligence acceleration and central processing units to run IAC teams’ software and algorithms.

“The Dallara-built IAC racecar is the most advanced, fastest autonomous vehicle ever developed,” stated Paul Mitchell, president and CEO of Energy Systems Network – co-organiser of the IAC. “Our IAC sponsors are providing radar, lidar, optical cameras and advanced computers, bringing the value of each vehicle to $US1 million.”

Teams will be running identical cars, so the challenge is in software development. The focus, organisers said, is on developing new generations of software that can ensure precision control of vehicles at high speeds during the competition and reduce fatalities on public roadways afterwards.

Source: Motor Trader e-Magazine (February 2021) 

4 February 2021

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