Universities Will Race Autonomous Cars Around Indianapolis Motor Speedway This Week

The Indy Autonomous Challenge will feature nine modified Indy Lights cars on the oval.

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Photo: IAC

The two-year long competition will reach its ultimate crescendo this week in Speedway, Indiana as nine university teams prepare to race autonomous cars for $1 million at the iconic Brickyard. The final two rounds of the Indy Autonomous Challenge are scheduled to take place at Indianapolis Motor Speedway over the course of this week.

The first two rounds of the software-focused autonomous vehicle competition centered around each entrant team formally launching its IAC project and demonstrating its ability to automate a passenger vehicle. The first two rounds took place in early 2020. The third round saw each team prove its capability of competently and safely operating an automated Dallara IL-15, a modified version of the same car used in Indy Lights. Indy Lights is a racing championship meant to prepare drivers for the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500, IndyCar’s marquee event. In February 2021, the third round took place on a competition-supplied simulation that recreated the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the automated Dallara IL-15, a virtual environment to pit the teams against each other in a format matching the upcoming fourth and fifth rounds.

Last week, the Indy Autonomous Challenge announced the nine teams that advanced past the third round and will participate in the final two rounds this week at the Speedway. These teams represent 21 universities from 9 different countries

The Finalists:

  • AI Racing Tech
    University of Hawai’i, University of California San Diego
  • Autonomous Tiger Racing
    Auburn University
  • Black & Gold Autonomous Racing
    Purdue University, United States Military Academy at West Point, with Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (India), Universidad de San Buenaventura (Colombia)
  • Cavalier Autonomous Racing
    University of Virginia
  • EuroRacing
    University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (Italy), University of Pisa (Italy), ETH Zürich (Switzerland), Polish Academy of Sciences (Poland)
    Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (South Korea)
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Pittsburgh, Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Waterloo (Canada)
  • PoliMOVE
    Politecnico di Milano (Italy), University of Alabama
  • TUM Autonomous Motorsport
    Technische Universität München (Germany)

The fourth and fifth rounds, the final two rounds, are very comparable to a traditional motorsport event. In the fourth round on October 21st and 22nd, each team will attempt to qualify its Dallara IL-15 on the 2.5 mile oval for the race finale. Each automated IL-15 will attempt 10-lap runs alone on track, similar to the four-lap qualifying runs of the Indianapolis 500. A team will advance to the final round if its IL-15 satisfies two criteria during the run, complete all 10 laps in 15 minutes or less (a minimum average speed of 100 mph) and complete a single lap in 75 seconds or less (a minimum average speed of 120 mph). The performances of the teams in the fourth round will also determine the starting positions of the field in the fifth round, the final race.

The fifth round on October 23rd, the final race, will be a 20-lap head-to-head race between all of the successful qualifiers. The first IL-15 across the finish line will be declared the winner and the winning team will receive $1 million. The second and third-placed teams will receive $250,000 and $50,000 respectively. It should be noted that the IL-15 must complete the race in 25 minutes or less to be a classified finisher and eligible for prize money. The Indy Autonomous Challenge will continue the Speedway’s tradition of generously rewarding those who push the boundaries of mobility.