There will be a car on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, but the driver will not be visible as the racing team marks a milestone in self-driving car development.
Nine single-seaters will participate in the Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC). This is a $ 1 million prize pool contest aimed at proving that “autonomous technology works in extreme conditions.” ESN).
The cars do not race on the “brickyard” track at the same time, but they start one after another. The winner is the fastest on a two-lap full-speed lap.
The team is made up of students from all over the world. Each group was given the same Dallara IL-15 car, which looks like a small F1 car, and the same equipment such as sensors, cameras, GPS and radar.
On race day, it is not the drivers that make the difference, but the approximately 40,000 lines of code programmed by each team.
The software kicks the engine and pushes a powerful computer into the bucket in which the driver normally sits.
The MIT-PITT-RW team is the only team made entirely of students without supervision and got the car just six weeks ago.
Nayana Swanna, 22, a student in the Faculty of Engineering, does not yet have a driver’s license, but is still reluctantly appointed as a team manager.
“I didn’t know anything about car racing, but I’m becoming a fan,” he said with a smile.
The MIT-PITT-RW car reached 130km / h in tests, but Swanna believes it can overtake 160 on Saturday.
“Generation of talent”
The other teams are moving much faster.
Cars from the PoliMOVE team, a partnership between the University of Alabama and Polytechnico in Milan, passed the pits at 250 km / h on Thursday.
However, the car skid on the next turn, turned 360 degrees and then stopped on the inner grass.
“It was a miracle that we didn’t crash,” said Sergio Matteo Savaresi, a professor at Polytecnico.
There was no responsible glitch: only cold tires and slight oversteer.
“We’ve actually reached the limits of the car,” said Savaresi, who oversees the PoliMOVE team.
“A professional driver at that speed with such tires would have done exactly the same thing.”
Manufactured by the manufacturer Roborace, Robocar has held a speed record for self-driving cars since 2019, traveling at 282 km / h, but on a straight course rather than a circuit.
The concept of self-driving cars has inspired imagination since the 1950s, but the technology needed to make it happen has been boosted over the last five years.
Most major automakers are working on self-driving projects and often work with major technology companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Cisco.
IAC participants do not consider speed to be a key goal.
“If people are used to seeing such cars running at 300km / h, they won’t crash,” Savaresi said, and ultimately such cars are safe “at 50km / h.” You might think.
According to a Morning Consult survey released in September, 47% of Americans believed that self-driving cars were less secure than human-driven cars.
Another goal of the race is to enable technology sharing.
Some teams plan to release the code to open source after the competition, Mitchell said.
“That is, we’ll take some of the most advanced AI algorithms ever developed for self-driving cars and expose them for industry, start-ups, and other universities to build.”
The project also aims to “cultivate a talented generation,” Savaresi said.
“People participating in this challenge will start a company and go to work for the company, so I think the innovation from this competition will continue for years.”