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186mph Self-Driving AI Cars Will Soon Race on F1 Tracks

Yas Marina circuit, where self-driving AI cars will race.
On April 28, 2024, the Yas Marina circuit for F1 races will host a competition for self-driving AI cars with a maximum speed of 186mph. Credit: JiteshJagadish / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

F1 racing is famous worldwide, but this is but a tiny piece of the larger Formula world. Besides F1, there are electric car races and video game competitions about F1, and now, there’s a whole league for self-driving cars.

At the GITEX 2023 tech festival in Dubai, the Dallara Super Formula SF23 was introduced. This car doesn’t need a human driver. It’s all about super-smart AI computer systems controlling the car as it zooms around the racetrack.

Competition among AI self-driving cars

Aspire, a company in Abu Dhabi, has organized a contest. In this contest, ten teams will race with the same car, made by Dallara, an Italian race car manufacturer.

The unique thing is that the teams can’t alter how the car works or its parts. They can, however, change the vehicle’s software algorithms that control the car.

Tom McCarthy, who is the executive director at Aspire, said, “We combine talent, technology and extreme sports in order to forge a pathway to the future of mobility.”

“We will combine state-of-the-art motor racing parts with artificial intelligence to deliver an extreme sporting experience,” Tom McCarthy stated.

On April 28, 2024, the Yas Marina circuit will host a competition with a prize of $2.25 million (£1.85 million) on the line. What makes this event truly unique is that instead of traditional racing teams with engineers, drivers, and mechanics, the competing teams will exclusively consist of members from universities and research teams specializing in artificial intelligence (AI).

Participating in this competition are teams representing institutions from various parts of the world, including North America, Italy, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Germany, and Hungary, reported BBC Science Focus.

The vehicle specifications

At the GITEX event, the specifications of the self-driving cars will remain consistent for all competing teams. The vehicle weighs 690 kilograms with a maximum speed of 186mph. It is powered by electricity, which places it in a similar category to Formula E, the electric racing series.

Viewers will have the opportunity to access the race through virtual and augmented reality experiences. They can virtually sit in the driver’s seat and fully take the experience of the race, according to BBC Science Focus.

The concept of autonomous car competitions isn’t new, with the Indy Autonomous Challenge being a recurring event in North America.

In contrast to real-world self-driving technologies, such as Tesla’s Autopilot, the Dallara League is pushing the boundaries by allowing self-driving systems to operate at much higher speeds.

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