The Yas Marina Circuit will host a driverless race using adapted Super Formula machinery as the inaugural event of the Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League.
Scheduled for April 28th 2024, 10 teams from international universities and research groups will compete for a prize pool of up to $2.25 million with adapted versions of the Super Formula SF23 to be piloted by Artificial Intelligence.
Autonomous racing has so far been limited in success with early pioneers restricted to running a maximum of two cars at a time.
However, the Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League (A2RL) has hopes to allow ‘several’ driverless cars to compete simultaneously, although the exact figures and methodology are yet to be finalised amid safety considerations.
Supported by Dallara and Super Formula organisers Japan Race Promotion, A2RL hopes to push the technological boundaries with a modified SF23 chassis fitted with a turbocharged 2.0 litre inline-four engine.
Cars are to be equipped with cameras to provide a 360-degree view, alongside GPS for navigation and radar and LiDAR sensors to detect obstacles, other cars and estimate distances.
Computers secured to the seat where a driver would normally sit will use the latest in AI technology to pilot the car, and through machine learning data will be processed automatically to help the AI clock faster lap times with each tour.
Each provided with the same car, teams have been invited to modify the league’s baseline software algorithm to extract as much performance as possible, shifting the focus to the engineers and coders behind the technology.
“We’re delighted to bring an autonomous racing event to Abu Dhabi and showcase it to the world through A2RL,” said Dr. Tom McCarthy, Executive Director of ASPIRE, the group running the race.
“This initiative is not just redefining mobility’s future, but it’s also inspiring a new generation to reimagine and innovate for a brighter future in a thrilling, international-scale race.
“By equipping competitive teams with the newly adapted Dallara SF23 cars, complete with an autonomy stack, we’re ensuring a level playing field. The focus isn’t on the driver’s skill now; it’s about the technology, programming, and machine learning algorithms that allow these vehicles to navigate intricate racetracks at breakneck speeds.”
The A2RL hopes to perform not only a sporting purpose but serve as a platform for further research and development of autonomous vehicle technology.
“By bringing together scientists, developers, and coding gurus from around the world within an extreme sports arena, we are actively stress-testing capabilities on the racetracks, for safety on our roads,” added H.E. Faisal Al Bannai, secretary general of the UAE’s Advanced Technology Research Council, ASPIRE’s parent company.
“At the intersection of science, sports, and technology, autonomy is set to revolutionize the future of transportation. The Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League stands as a testament to Abu Dhabi’s growing reputation as an international research and development (R&D) hub and a premier test bed for trialling proof-of-concept autonomous solutions.”
This month, Daniil Kvyat performed a human shakedown of the SF23 at the Dubai Autodrome with A2RL to “set the benchmark of what is humanly possible” with the car in what the league says is a ‘crucial step’ towards imminent full autonomy.
Full details on the race format are yet to be confirmed, but the inaugural Spring 2024 event is expected to consist of sprint races, time trials and feature races with the league aiming to see all ten teams take to the Yas Marina Circuit simultaneously.