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You won't believe what's coming to IMS in 2021!

Race cars without drivers will take to the track
Posted at 3:25 PM, Nov 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-05 15:25:52-05

INDIANAPOLIS—On the day after an ownership change at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was made public, plans for a very different kind of race were outlined.

IMS and Energy Systems Network Tuesday announced a two-year, $1 million prize competition that will lead up to a high-speed autonomous vehicle race on October 23, 2021.

Would you believe full-size race cars without drivers? That's what this is all about.

The Indy Autonomous Challenge is a competition among universities to create software the allows self-driving Indy Lights cars to compete in a race on the 2.5-mile oval.

It's all about innovation as we head toward a world of self-driving vehicles.

"There's a fundamental connection between innovations on the racetrack and real-world improvements on the highway," said IMS President J. Douglas Boles. "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 the groundbreaking and exciting event."

The challenge will consist of five rounds. In the first three, teams work on and submit their plans. Round four includes actual testing at IMS. Round five is the race, with a $1 million prize to the winner.

"What we are asking universities to do is hard," said Matt Peak, director of mobility at Energy Systems Network. "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."

Five teams have already registered for the competition: Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Texas A&M Transportation Institute, University of Florida, University of Illinois and the University of Virginia.

As for the driverless race itself, there's one big question: Who drinks the milk?