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The Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC) announced that team PoliMOVE won the first-ever autonomous driving road course time trial competition, held at the Monza “Temple of Speed.” The historic feat took place as part of the Milan Monza Motor Show (MIMO), which ran from June 16-18, 2023, at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza.
In January, the IAC announced it would expand its challenges to include road courses and formed a two-year partnership with the Milan Monza Motor Show to run competitions at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza on the famed F1 circuit. IAC teams were tasked with programming their AI drivers to pilot identical Dallara AV-21 racecars in the first IAC exhibition ever held on a road course and the first run outside the United States.
“Once again, the Indy Autonomous Challenge is pushing the boundaries of high-speed automation with a historic time trial race on the iconic Monza F1 circuit,” said Paul Mitchell president, IAC. “It was an honor for the IAC to have our competition approved by the Automobile Club d’Italia (ACI Sport) and watch the fans cheer on the winning hometown team PoliMOVE. We can’t wait to come back next year and attempt some head-to-head racing.”
The IAC brought six autonomous racecars and five university teams to MIMO to compete in six sessions over three days, totaling more than 1,300 miles of testing where the cars consistently reached increasing speeds, running progressively faster lap times. The autonomous driving software was programmed by students and researchers from some of the most advanced universities and research centers in the world, and included teams from:
- KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology)
- MIT-PITT-RW (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Pittsburgh, Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Waterloo)
- PoliMOVE (Politecnico di Milano, University of Alabama)
- TII UNIMORE Racing (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia)
- TUM Autonomous Motorsport (Technische Universität München)
TII UNIMORE Racing, TUM Autonomous Motorsport, and PoliMOVE entered the final round of competition on Sunday afternoon separated by only three seconds.
In a thrilling ending, team PoliMOVE finished its final lap in a blistering 2:05.87 on the 5.79 kilometer / 3.6-mile-long track, with 11 turns, reaching a top speed of 273.4 KPH (169.8 MPH). Beating the odds, PoliMOVE’s AI driver was piloting a backup AV-21 racecar due to a wreck of its original car during practice earlier in the week.
TUM Autonomous Motorsport took second place with a lap time of 2:08.66 and a top speed of 269.9 KPH (167.7 MPH) and TII UNIMORE Racing finished third with a final lap time of 2:11.24 and a top speed of 250.8 KPH (155.8 MPH). More than 10,000 spectators filled the stands to witness a first-of-its-kind spectacle of fully autonomous racecars competing on an F1 circuit. The fact that a “hometown” team representing Politecnico di Milano won resulted in a historic celebration on the Monza Winner’s Podium.
Each of the five university teams participating received an official driving license to participate in the competition, issued by ACI Milano. Although the license is granted to the team leader, it represents a first-of-its-kind motorsport license for an “AI driver.” To gain approval from ACI Sport, the IAC and each university team had to submit historical data and demonstrate track tests at Monza to validate the ability and safe operations of an autonomous racecar.
The IAC will continue to collaborate with ACI Sport and the Autodromo Nazionale Monza to advance the rules and regulations guiding autonomous racing competitions with the goal to hold the first multicar head-to-head racing competition during MIMO 2024.
In addition to track activities, the IAC exhibited alongside Premier Sponsors, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) and Luminar, all week in Pit Boxes 37-39. The exhibition allowed spectators to learn about IAC’s base of operations in Indiana where it is partnering with the IEDC to develop a global hub for high-speed automation.