Autonomous car race coming to Indianapolis Motor Speedway

November 07, 2019 //By Rich Pell
Autonomous race coming to Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Automobile racing circuit Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Indianapolis, IN) and energy and transportation technology developer Energy Systems Network (Indianapolis, IN) have announced a two-year $1 million prize competition that will culminate in a head-to-head, high-speed autonomous vehicle race around the Speedway's 2.5-mile oval that also plays host annually to the Indianapolis 500.

The Indy Autonomous Challenge is a competition among universities to create software that will enable self-driving Indy Lights race cars to compete in a head-to-head race on the Speedway's track. The development of such software, say the organizations, can help speed the commercialization of full autonomous vehicles and enhance existing advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) in people-driven cars.

"There's a fundamental connection between innovations on the racetrack and real-world improvements on the highway," says Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) President J. Douglas Boles. "With the launch of the Indy Autonomous Challenge, IMS continues to embrace its historic role as a catalyst for the next generation of vehicle technologies in motorsports competition and wider consumer platforms. And while drivers will always be at the heart of racing at IMS, we're excited to be part of this groundbreaking and exciting initiative."

The Challenge builds on the success and impact of the DARPA Grand Challenge – the 2004-05 defense research initiative that helped create the modern autonomous vehicle industry – as well as IMS's roots dating back to 1909 as a proving ground for the early automotive industry. The Challenge consists of five rounds. Teams submit a short white paper during the first round and in the second round they 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.

For the third round, teams will be supplied the VRXPERIENCE Driving Simulator by Indy Autonomous Challenge's simulation sponsor ANSYS to use in developing their autonomous vehicle software. Energy Systems Network (ESN) and ANSYS will co-host "hackathons" to familiarize teams with the simulator's full potential and ANSYS will award $150,000 in prizes to top finishers of a simulated race.

The fourth round will enable teams to test their actual vehicles at IMS in advance of the head-to-head race around the oval, scheduled to take place Oct. 23, 2021, which will award $1

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