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Conceptual rendering of the autonomous-capable Dallara race car
May 22, 2020

UW-Madison team revs up to compete in new autonomous race car challenge

Written By: Staff


A team of University of Wisconsin-Madison engineering students will compete in the Indy Autonomous Challenge, the world’s first autonomous race car competition, in 2021.

In total, 37 universities worldwide that excel in AI software and autonomous vehicle engineering have formed 31 teams to officially enter the competition, which is organized by Energy Systems Network and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The Indy Autonomous Challenge is a $1.5 million prize competition among universities to program autonomous-modified Dallara IL-15 race cars. The teams will compete in a head-to-head race at speeds of up to 200 mph around the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Oct. 23, 2021.

“With the world-class facilities and internationally acclaimed automotive programs at UW-Madison, we are hungry for autonomous vehicle development,” says Aaron Young, a UW-Madison mechanical engineering and computer science student and co-leader of the Wisconsin Autonomous team. “The Indy Autonomous Challenge promotes rapid innovation in autonomous technologies, and who wouldn’t want to program an autonomous race car driving at 180 mph on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway!”

The primary goal of the challenge is to advance technology that can speed the commercialization of fully autonomous vehicles and deployments of advanced driver-assistance systems. These enhancements will lead to increased safety and performance in all modes of racing and commercial transportation. In addition, the competition offers an opportunity for students to engage in hands-on learning while working on technology with real-world applications.

As part of the challenge, teams will engage with Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research through its Deep Orange program, where Clemson graduate automotive engineering students are collaborating with Energy Systems Network and Dallara to engineer an autonomous-capable version of Dallara’s IL-15 Indy Lights chassis that can accommodate the competitors’ driverless algorithms. Teams will be directly involved through semi-monthly virtual design reviews and other feedback channels throughout the competition.

The Indy Autonomous Challenge builds upon the successful impact of the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge, which led to expanded research and development in the field of autonomous vehicles.