The Indianapolis Motor Speedway plans to host a high-speed autonomous vehicle race in 2021, event organizers announced Tuesday.
The Oct. 23 race will cap a two-year competition for a $1 million prize.
The Indy Autonomous Challenge will be a five-round 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.
In addition to the $1 million top prize, the second-place finisher will receive $250,000 and the third-place car will get $50,000.
The event is is being conducted by IMS and Energy Systems Network, with help from race car manufacturer Dallara Automobili and the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research.
Five universities registered for the competition when it opened Tuesday morning: Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology, Texas A&M Transportation Institute, University of Florida, University of Illinois and the University of Virginia.
“There’s a fundamental connection between innovations on the racetrack and real-world improvements on the highway,” IMS President Doug Boles said in written remarks. “With the launch of the Indy Autonomous Challenge, IMS continues to embrace its historic role as a catalyst for the next generation of vehicle technologies in motorsports competition and wider consumer platforms. And while drivers will always be at the heart of racing at IMS, we’re excited to be part of this groundbreaking and exciting initiative.”
Teams will present a white paper in the first round. 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 third round will consist of a simulated race featuring $150,000 in prize money. Teams will test their actual vehicles at IMS in the fourth round.
The Indianapolis-based Energy Systems Network was founded in 2009 to accelerate the pace of energy and transportation technology development and commercialization.
“What we’re asking universities to do is hard,” said Matt Peak, director of mobility at Energy Systems Network, in written comments. “Our hope is that by bringing together and offering up to participating teams the world’s premier automotive proving ground, performance chassis manufacturer, engineering research center and simulation platform, as well as nearly $1.5 million in total cash awards, universities will see the Challenge as not just throwing down the gauntlet but also extending the helping hand to accelerate innovation and the arrival of new technologies.”
Organizers said registration is open for accredited, tax-exempt colleges and universities through Feb. 28, 2020. More information can be found here.