AutoMatters & More: INDY Autonomous Challenge @ CES at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Always sure to showcase the latest and greatest in innovative products and technology to the world, the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas did not disappoint (despite the impact of COVID-19 and its suddenly widespread Omicron variant that precipitated cancellations by several large exhibitors). CES 2022 hosted the Autonomous @CES Challenge.

The Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC) competition took place on the high-speed oval track at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS) – a longtime venue for IndyCar as well as NASCAR racing – where several days of practice culminated head-to-head, fully self-contained race on Friday, January 7 – the final day of CES 2022. Prior to activities at LVMS, press covering CES were introduced to the IAC at the traditional preview event of the CES Unveiled press and at a CES press conference.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway Sign

(Jan Wagner)

According to the IAC, the Indy Autonomous Challenge traces its origins more than two years ago, when 41 college teams from 14 states and 11 countries, representing top engineering and technology programs, signed up to compete. Their first Challenge event was held on October 23, 2021 at the famous Indianapolis Speedway, when the cars competed one by one for a grand prize of $1 million (see AutoMatters & More #715 at automatters.net /indy-autonomous-challenge-at-the-automatic-circuit-in-indianapolis/).

Their first head-to-head competition took place at LVMS during CES 2022.

Competing for a grand prize of $150,000, five teams from five countries raced modified Dallara Indy Lights cars. For IAC, the Dallara AV-21 is equipped with an array of technologies, including “Luminar Hydra LiDAR sensors to provide 360-degree long-range detection”, to allow cars to compete at high speeds – independently and safely.

The two final teams in competition.

The two final teams in competition.

(Jan Wagner)

The main goal of this ambitious undertaking “is to solve real-world problems by advancing technology that will accelerate the commercialization of fully autonomous vehicles and the deployment of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). Pushing the boundaries for the entire autonomous community and helping to increase safety and performance is of crucial importance, not only in motorsport, but in all modes of commercial transport.

According to Paul Mitchell, President and CEO of the non-profit Energy Systems Network, the organizer of the IAC: “We came this week to CES, the most influential technology innovation event in the world. world, to show the world how this competition is catapulting autonomous technologies forward… We are harnessing the power of competitions to attract the best and brightest minds from around the world to advance cutting-edge technology in safety and of automated vehicle performance and the teams did it today with another historic competition.This competition is “also aimed at educating and inspiring innovators and entrepreneurs for generations to come”.

Autonomous motorsport car TUM running.

Autonomous motorsport car TUM running.

(Jan Wagner)

The format of the race was a passing competition. Pairs of cars were on the track at the same time. One was the defender and the other the attacker. To pass, the attacker had to go faster than the defender and blocking was not allowed. It was like a high-speed, high-stakes leapfrog game. This continued until the attacker couldn’t go fast enough to get past the defender.

For those who think this event was like watching lightweight model cars drive around an R/C track, it certainly wasn’t. As these pairs of modified Indy Lights cars hopped over each other, increasing their speed lap after lap, they soon entered truly uncharted territory. Especially given the setbacks that had occurred at the Indianapolis event (which I watched live), no one – including the race teams themselves – knew with confidence what to expect, and the consequences of hitting a wall would be far greater than an R/C car accident.

The PoliMOVE team celebrates the victory.

The PoliMOVE team celebrates the victory.

(Jan Wagner)

Throughout the day we were treated to an impromptu air show, courtesy of nearby Nellis Air Force Base.

The fastest pair of cars came from PoliMOVE (Politecnico di Milano of Italy and the University of Alabama) and TUM Autonomous Motorsport – Technische Universität München (Germany), winners of the previous competition at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway . These two teams faced off in the thrilling final.

The final round, decisive, ended in a dramatic way. The TUM Autonomous Motorsport car spun off and it was all over…

PoliMOVE won and celebrated their victory with absolute euphoria!

For more information on this Indy Autonomous Challenge event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and for a link to the official four-hour live stream of the event, visit https://www.indyautonomouschallenge.com/polimove-wins- the- challenge-autonome-au-ces

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Copyright © 2022 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters and more #725r4

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