The Indianapolis Motor Speedway recently hosted teams of university students who programmed cars to drive the track autonomously, in an event called the Indy Autonomous Challenge. A team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM), in Germany, took first place.
This is such a neat endeavor, and the team that organized the event deserves a ton of credit for pulling it off, as do the university students, of course.
This is a somewhat different endeavor from building a regular self-driving car, just as race car driving is different from regular driving.
For one thing, this event was a time trial – each car was on the track by itself, and the goal was simply to complete two laps as fast as possible.
This eliminates some of the core responsibilities of autonomous vehicles, such as perception, prediction, and behavior.
Instead, teams can focus on pushing the limits of the vehicles’ localization, motion planning, and control software. Those limits turn our to be very, very fast.
It’s a lot of fun to watch.