After nearly two years since its inception, the culmination of the inaugural Indy Autonomous Challenge powered by Cisco is set to take place next month at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Ten teams of students from 21 universities in nine countries will field driverless race cars on the 2.5-mile oval track for the first time in the $1.5 million prize competition. “It’s been an exciting journey,” said Energy Systems Network President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Mitchell. “[The teams] have been living in Indianapolis since June practicing almost every day…logging hundreds of fully autonomous laps.”

Mitchell and Indiana Economic Development Corp. Chief Innovation Officer Dave Roberts talked about the high-profile event on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.

Plans for the competition were first announced in November 2019. ESN said at the time the software that would be used could help drive commercialization of fully autonomous vehicles, as well as enhance existing driver-assistance systems in vehicles driven by people.

The AV-21 race cars that will be used in the race were developed by Dallara, which houses its U.S. headquarters in Speedway and developed the chassis for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Mitchell says over the past several months, teams have been ramping up the speed with which their cars have gone around the track, some surpassing 100 miles per hour.

The competition is scheduled for October 23 at IMS. The event will begin with an Autonomous Innovation Summit with up to 400 industry, government and academic leaders. The day will also feature a technology showcase and university fan zone at the Gasoline Alley garages, where people can meet the teams and learn about the autonomous technology.

Roberts said the competition means a lot to the state on a number of different levels.

“It is a focal point for the entire industry at this point and as we think about the future of mobility, autonomous really plays a massive role,” said Roberts. “One of the other sponsors, Aptiv, just cut the ribbon on their facilities in Westfield and in Carmel. Really, also the STEM aspect, I think, is really, really important. Getting the K-12 kids there and interested, as well as the college kids to come out and see this is a great inspiration.”

Roberts adds Indiana is positioning itself for future investment with the competition.

“We saw that coming out of the DARPA Grand Challenge, the original inspiration for this event. We’re hopeful that companies spin out of this and grow right here in Indiana,” he said.

The winners will be the team to furthest advance autonomous technology through the IAC competition. The first place team will be awarded $1 million for taking the checkered flag, with $250,000 going to second place and $50,000 going to third. 

You can learn more about the Indy Autonomous Challenge by clicking here.

We’ll have more from the competition, including comments from the winning team, in the next INPower e-newsletter.