First Indy Autonomous Car Race Features Local Entry


A recent race the Indianapolis Speedway may international headlines this week. The Indy Autonomous Challenge featured a field of entrants with no drivers. Every car on the track was a fully autonomous vehicle and each entry came from university student teams around the globe. Sadly, our local team from the University of Waterloo did not finish the race due to GPS issues.

The race was the culmination of months of hard work by students designing their entries in the first Indy Autonomous Challenge sponsored by Cisco. Teams competed for the $1 million prize with their cars having an average speed of 136 miles per hour.

The nine-car race saw four teams crash out. The teams spent weeks in Indianapolis integrating their self driving software into modified cars. The failed Waterloo team was already planning ways to raise money to enter the next contest before the race finished. They said ““The crash doesn’t take away from the entire experience,” he said. “I still learned a whole lot, experienced many things, and it’s all about the journey, not just the destination. We know how to do better in the future now.”

The PolimNOVE entry (University of Alabma and Politecnico Milan) reached top speed of 250 KM/h but ended up not finishing the race when the car spun out due to cold tires.

The winner of the race was TUM (Technical University of Munich). You can read the entire press release from the Indy Autonomous Challenge below:

TUM Autonomous Motorsport Wins The Indy Autonomous Challenge Powered By Cisco At The Indianapolis Motor Speedway And The $1 Million Grand Prize 

INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 23, 2021)  -- TUM Autonomous Motorsport from the Technische Universität München (TUM), has won the Indy Autonomous Challenge Powered by Cisco (IAC), the first autonomous racecar competition at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). TUM competed in a field of 9 teams from 21 universities to win the $1 million grand prize.

The Rules of the IAC competition required each team to compete in a fastest lap competition that included an obstacle avoidance component. The winning team recorded the fastest 2-lap average speed of 135.944 on the famed IMS Oval.

“Participating in the Indy Autonomous Challenge allowed our team to advance autonomous driving technologies and being able to take first place after two years of hard work acknowledges that we had an outstanding team,” said Alex Wischnewski, team leader of TUM Autonomous Motorsport. “Our next goal is to win a high-speed autonomous head-to-head race.”

Organized by Energy Systems Network and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the primary goal of the IAC is to advance technology that can speed the commercialization of fully autonomous vehicles and deployments of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). These enhancements will lead to increased safety and performance in motorsports as well as all modes of commercial transportation. In addition, the competition serves as a platform for students to excel in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and inspire the next generation of innovators.

The IAC began with a welcome by Mark Miles, president and CEO, Penske Entertainment, and Paul Mitchell, president and CEO, Energy Systems Network, co-organizers of the competition. Lexi Smith, a senior from Indiana’s Mooresville High School, sang the U.S. national anthem. This was followed by an official Telegrid Drone Express flyover, which delivered the green, white and checkered flags to the official IAC flag waver, Boston Dynamics’ agile mobile robot Spot. 

An exhibition from the IAC official racecar company, Dallara, followed with the Indy Racing Experience two-seaterdriven by professional racecar driver Gabby Chaves, with Indiana Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers in the passenger seat. In addition, Dallara CEO Andrea Pontremoli drove the Dallara EXP with Luminar CEO Austin Russell in the passenger seat. The Dallara EXP was designed by The Dallara Group, and its company Founder and President Giampaolo Dallara.

Indiana Governor Eric J. Holcomb officially started the competition with the call “Ladies and gentlemen start your software and crank your engines."

“The IAC would not be possible without the generous support of Lilly Endowment Inc. and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, which have been committed partners since the beginning,” said Paul Mitchell. “The prize money won by TUM Autonomous Motorsport will go to the Technische Universität München (Technical University of Munich, Germany), to support the university’s efforts to further autonomous technology research and development. We know that the achievements of our IAC teams, alongside some of the best companies in the world, will certainly lead to the acceleration of Indiana’s AI and automation industries well into the future.”

In addition to thousands of attendees at the IMS, and more than 20,000 viewers on the AWS livestream, the IAC hosted 350 high school STEM students, the next generation of innovators, representing more than 50 urban, rural and suburban school districts across Indiana.

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