Autonomous Racing Car Smokes The Competition

by Mat Dirjish

Students in Auburn University’s GPS and Vehicle Dynamics Lab (GAVLAB), Autonomous Tiger Racing (ATR), ran the Dallara AV-21 autonomous race car around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) back on August 27, 2021 in preparation for the first Indy Autonomous Challenge on October 23, 2021. After the event, the Auburn team claims to have “literally lapped the competition and made history in the process.”

Designed to push the boundaries of autonomous technology and elevate consumer confidence in autonomous vehicles, the Indy Autonomous Challenge will pit teams from around the world for 20 laps around the 2.5-mile oval at speeds up to 185 mph. The top prize is $1 million.

Teams have to use LiDAR, GPS-INS, computer vision cameras, radar, and other sensors to design a software stack that allows an Indy Lights car to travel at race pace as well as interpret draft influence and the movements of competitors. Though chase vehicles are employed in testing, cars will soon traverse the track alone.

Auburn’s team kept the pace slower at the August 27 outing in order to validate track boundaries and to calibrate its software. ATR team lead Will Bryan says, “That will soon change. When we start to get to speeds in excess of 130 mph, we’re looking for how the sensors behave, the quality of the measurements, motion blur in the cameras, and LiDARs. We have to test many of these sensors at the higher speeds. Then layer in multi-vehicle detection and tracking at high speed — these are the major challenges in front of us.”

For more details, visit the Auburn University-College of Engineering website. Also take a gander at the Indy Autonomous Challenge.

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