2023 CES: Indy Autonomous Challenge returns

Public roads would be a dangerous place to push technology and components to their limits. That makes the race track a natural place to challenge the performance envelope.

“The nature of racing is to push these cars and find out where the limit is,” said Madhur Behl, assistant professor of computer science at the University of Virginia.

He leads the school’s Cavalier Autonomous Racing Team in the Indy Autonomous Challenge events.

Speed remains a key element. In April, the PoliMOVE team, which won last year’s IAC in Las Vegas, set a world record for fastest autonomous land operation.

The team, which comprised members from the Politecnico di Milano (Italy) and University of Alabama, reached 192.2 mph on the tarmac at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Speeds at the event in Las Vegas could approach that depending on weather and track conditions.

Sometimes limits are pushed to the point of failure. In 2022, the Virginia team’s vehicle crashed at 125 mph. Luckily, the crucial electronics housed in the cockpit where a human driver would normally sit emerged unscathed.

“Every single race has been a learning exercise,” Behl said. “We can look at what is working well and what has room for improvement.”

Those exercises will get trickier in the months ahead at Indy Autonomous Challenge events. So far, races have been held on oval courses in Indianapolis, Las Vegas and Austin, Texas.

In 2023, Indy Autonomous Challenge races will be held on road courses, Mitchell said. He did not disclose the location of those races but said a two-year agreement had been reached for races in 2023 and 2024, details of which would be shared during CES.

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