Powerhouse student team PoliMOVE, a joint effort of Politecnico di Milano and the University of Alabama, has won the first Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC) autonomous driving road course time trial competition. More than 10,000 spectators filled the stands to witness the driverless racecars competing on the Monza “Temple of Speed” Formula One circuit as part of the Milan Monza Motor Show (MIMO) that ran last weekend at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza.
“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,” said Paul Mitchell, President of the IAC. “We can’t wait to come back next year and attempt some head-to-head racing.”
In January at CES 2023, the IAC announced it would expand its challenges to include road courses and formed a two-year partnership with the MIMO to run competitions on the famed F1 circuit. The IAC teams had to program their AI (artificial intelligence) drivers to pilot identical Dallara AV-21 racecars in the first IAC event held outside the U.S.
Six autonomous racecars and five university teams competed in six sessions over three days totaling more than 1300 mi (2090 km) of testing, with the cars consistently running progressively faster lap times. In addition to PoliMOVE, the autonomous driving software was developed by students and researchers from KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology); MIT-PITT-RW, the joint team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Pittsburgh, Rochester Institute of Technology, and University of Waterloo); TII UNIMORE Racing (from the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia); and TUM Autonomous Motorsport (from Technische Universität München).
In the end, PoliMOVE finished its final lap in 2:05.87 on the 5.79 km (3.6 mi) long track, reaching a top speed of 273.4 km/h (169.8 mph). The team’s AI driver was piloting a backup racecar due to a wreck of its original car during practice earlier in the week.
“Winning on our very prestigious F1 home circuit was satisfying, especially after the many technical problems we had in the weeks leading up to the race, which forced us to compete with a “mock-up” car that was never used in the race,” said Sergio Savaresi, Professor of Automatics at Politecnico di Milano and leader of the Politecnico research group’s Move team, which has been studying for 20 years automatic controls in all types of land vehicles. “I want to thank our sponsors Movyon (Gruppo Autostrade per l’Italia) and Fluentis for supporting us despite all the difficulties.”
TUM Autonomous Motorsport took second place with a 2:08.66 lap time and 269.9 km/h (167.7 mph) top speed and TII UNIMORE Racing finished third with a 2:11.24 lap time and 250.8 km/h (155.8 mph) top speed.
All of the participating teams received an official driving license issued by ACI Milano and approved by ACI Sport to participate in the competition, a first-of-its-kind motorsport license for an AI driver.
The IAC will continue to collaborate with ACI Sport and the Autodromo Nazionale Monza to advance the rules guiding autonomous racing competitions with the goal to hold the first multicar head-to-head racing competition during MIMO 2024.