Nine teams representing 21 universities will participate in the Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC), with the winner taking $1-million in prize money. (Image credit: IAC)
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is known worldwide as a premier race track that's been in service for over 112 years. This Saturday, it will host the first Indy Autonomous Challenge, where nine teams representing 21 universities will compete for a $1-million prize. The race was organized by the Energy Systems Network and the Indy Motor Speedway with the primary goal of advancing technology that can propel the commercialization of fully autonomous vehicles and deployments of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). Given that races are all about speed and precision handling, the challenges presented by the Indy track should prove helpful in that endeavor.
Each team has created a modified version of Dallara's AV-21 that's been retrofitted with LIDAR/RADAR, cameras, ultrasonic and IR sensors, all of which will require protection against shock, vibration and heat. Each team is responsible for determining which sensor types they would like to use and their position within the autonomous race car. According to the IAC, "Students will utilize advanced simulation methodologies as well as feedback from the competition Teams and sensor manufacturers to determine the final sensor set that to be used for racing."
The teams are also responsible for choosing their onboard computer systems for navigation, obstacle detection, and avoidance. It will also be used to control a drive-by-wire system and actuators to handle steering, throttle, shifting, braking and clutch operation. All of the vehicles are running the ROS 2 open-source operating system and Autoware for the basis for their autonomy stack.
"The combination of ROS 2 and Autoware has given the IAC student teams a firm starting point for building out vehicle autonomy," states ROS Advocate Katherine Scott. "Rather than having to focus on building interfaces to the sensors and actuators of the vehicles, the students can focus on the more challenging control and planning tasks. For example, instead of spending their time building an interface to the vehicle's LIDAR, the students can instead focus on using data from that LIDAR to keep the vehicle in its lane and avoid obstacles."
The Indy Autonomous Challenge is open to the public, with tickets going for just $10, or can be viewed online via registration linked above.
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