The mythical oval of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway it was the scene of a singular car race, but without drivers. Nine monoposts Dallara AV-21 provided with autonomous driving systems were measured within the framework of the Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC), a career with a million dollars in prizes.
All teams, made up of students from all over the world, received the same car and the same technological equipment that included captors, sensors, cameras, GPS and radars.
"The objective of this initiative is clear: to demonstrate that autonomous technology can work in extreme conditions"Said Paul Mitchell, from the firm ESN, one of the organizers of the event.
In principle the cars were going to race together, as in the usual races, but the organizers changed their minds because not all the teams arrived in the best conditions. Consequently, the challenge consisted of taking two fast laps and the vehicle with the best average speed was considered the winner.
The duel was won by the team TUM Autonomous Motorsport, from the German university Technical University of Munich, who averaged 219 km/h with two perfect turns, unlike the other rivals who had several inconveniences to get their cars to the finish line.
El Rob, made by Roborace, has since 2019, the official speed record for an autonomous car, with 282 km/h, but in a straight line on an airstrip, not on a circuit.
Autonomous cars appear as the next great challenge for the automotive industry, which today has reached the 3 level that allow vehicles to perform certain actions with the supervision of the driver.
It has been fantasizing about the idea of the autonomous car since the 1950s, but it was only in the last five years that it accelerated its momentum. Most of the big automakers are developing their own projects and they do so mostly in collaboration with tech giants such as Amazon, Microsoft o Cisco.
However, a poll published last month by Morning consult showed that the 47% of Americans consider autonomous vehicles less safe than those driven by people.
In this context, the IAC could change that perception. "If people get used to seeing that autonomous cars run at 300 km / h without accident, they will be convinced that at 50 km / h they are safe", he claimed Sergio Matteo Savaresi, professor of Polytechnic of Milan, who supervised the team PoliMOVE.
The second objective of IAC is to enable technology transfer. "Several teams are already planning to publish their program, in open access, after the race"Mitchell stated. "Therefore some of the most advanced artificial intelligence algorithms will be available for industry, startups, or other universities to take advantage of.", culminated.