Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) and Energy Systems Network (ESN) have formed to host 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 2.5-mile oval, which also plays host annually to the Indianapolis 500.
The announcement was made at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, the automotive industry's premier venue for performance products.
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. The development of such software can help speed the commercialization of full autonomous vehicles and enhance existing advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) in people-driven cars. These technologies help drivers remain in control and avoid accidents by prompting awareness and improving accuracy.
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.
The challenge builds upon the success and impact of the DARPA Grand Challenge — the 2004-2005 defense research initiative that helped create the modern autonomous vehicle industry — as well as IMS's roots dating back to 1909 as a proving ground for the nascent automotive industry. More than a century later, IMS has contributed to countless breakthroughs in automotive performance and safety, including the first rear-view mirror.