Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) and Energy Systems Network (ESN) recently revealed 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 announcement was made at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas.
The Indy Autonomous Challenge is a competition 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.
“There’s a fundamental connection between innovations on the racetrack and real-world improvements on the highway,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “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 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. The Indy Autonomous Challenge’s simulation sponsor ANSYS will supply its VRXPERIENCE Driving Simulator powered by SCANeR and its SCADE software development suite to teams for their use in developing autonomous vehicle software. 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 during the third round. The fourth round enables teams to test their actual vehicles at IMS in advance of the head-to-head race around the oval, which will award $1 million, $250,000, and $50,000 to the first, second, and third finishers, respectively.
“What we’re asking universities to do is hard,” said Matt Peak, director of mobility at Energy Systems Network. “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.”
Joining IMS and ESN for the announcement were race car manufacturer Dallara Automobili and the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR). Through Clemson University’s vehicle prototype program Deep Orange, Clemson graduate automotive engineering students will collaborate with ESN and Dallara to engineer an autonomous-capable version of Dallara’s 210 mph IL-15 Indy Lights chassis that can accommodate the competing university teams’ driverless algorithms. Participating teams will be directly involved in the converted vehicle’s design and specifications through monthly virtual design reviews (VDRs) and other feedback channels throughout the competition.
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 foregin institutions of higher education) through Feb. 28 2020.