#114, Indianapolis Motor Speedway set for driverless race

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The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been the home to many of motorsports’ greatest drivers and races. In less than two years, the renowned racetrack will host another iconic racing event — without drivers.

The speedway (IMS) and Energy Systems Network (ESN) recently announced a two-year, $1 million prize competition that will culminate in a head-to-head, high-speed autonomous vehicle race Oct. 23, 2021, around the Speedway’s famed 2.5-mile oval.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway will host an autonomous car race in 2021.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway will host an autonomous car race in 2021.

Matt Peak, director of mobility at Energy Systems Network, is our guest on this episode of The Weekly Driver Podcast.

Peak talks with co-hosts Bruce Aldrich and James Raia about the pending event, The Indy Autonomous Challenge. The competition will be among universities to create software that enables self-driving Indy Lights race cars to compete in a head-to-head race on the IMS track.

The development of the software can help speed the commercialization of fully autonomous vehicles and enhance existing advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) in people-driven cars. These technologies help drivers remain in control and avoid accidents by prompting awareness and improving accuracy.

“What we’re asking universities to do is hard,” said Peak. “Our hope is that by bringing together and offering up to participating teams the world’s premier automotive proving ground, performance chassis manufacturer, engineering research center and simulation platform, as well as nearly $1.5 million in total cash awards, universities will see the Challenge as not just throwing down the gauntlet but also extending the helping hand to accelerate innovation and the arrival of new technologies.”

The Challenge consists of five rounds. Teams submit a short white paper during the first round, and in the second round, teams must demonstrate vehicular automation by sharing a short video of an existing vehicle or by participating in Purdue University’s self-driving go-kart competition at IMS.

Five universities registered for the competition upon its opening this morning: Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST), Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), University of Florida, University of Illinois and the University of Virginia.

Registration is open for accredited, tax-exempt colleges and universities (including foreign institutions of higher education) through Feb. 28, 2020.

For more information and to register for the competition, visit www.indyautonomouschallenge.com.

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