Oct 25, 2021 - Sports

Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosts first-ever driverless car race

A Boston Dynamics' robot dog hold the starting flag on the grid of the Indy Autonomous Challenge race at the Indianapolis Speedway in Indianapolis on October 23, 2021.
Boston Dynamics' robot dog holds the starting flag on the grid of the Indy Autonomous Challenge race at the Indianapolis Speedway on Oct. 23. Photo: Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway helped autonomous vehicle researchers reach a new milestone over the weekend by hosting its inaugural driverless car race.

Driving the news: Nine teams from 21 universities competed to win the $1 million grand prize — with Technical University of Munich (TUM) recording the fastest two-lap average speed of 135.944 mph on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Oval, per an Indy Autonomous Challenge statement.

  • "The Rules of the IAC competition required each team to compete in a fastest lap competition that included an obstacle avoidance component," the statement notes.

What they're saying: Dallara USA CEO Stefano dePonti told AFP he believed he'd witnessed "a part of history."

  • "Nobody knew that these [self-driving cars] could go so fast in competition," he said.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Joann Muller: By not racing side-by-side on the track, the cars didn't have to make split-second decisions based on the behavior of other vehicles around it, the way humans do every day. So in the end, the autonomous challenge merely proved that driverless cars can go really fast.

In photos: Indy Autonomous Challenge
  Cars are lined up on the grid during a practice session of the Indy Autonomous Challenge race on Oct. 23.
Cars are lined up on the grid during a practice session of the Indy Autonomous Challenge race on Oct. 23. Photo: Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images
The car of AI Racing Tech of Hawaii University completes a lap during the Indy Autonomous Challenge race at the Indianapolis Speedway in Indianapolis on October 23.
The car of AI Racing Tech of Hawaii University completes a lap during the Indy Autonomous Challenge race at the Indianapolis Speedway in Indianapolis on Oct. 23. Photo: Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images
 Team members of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) stand before their car prior to the Indy Autonomous Challenge race on Oct. 23.
Team members of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) stand before their car prior to the Indy Autonomous Challenge race on Oct. 23. Photo: Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images
 Alexander Wischnewski (C) of TUM Autonomous Motorsport embraces a teammate after competing in the Indy Autonomous Challenge race a on October 23.
Alexander Wischnewski (center) of TUM Autonomous Motorsport embraces a teammate after competing in the Indy Autonomous Challenge race on Oct. 23. Photo: Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images
 Team members of TUM Autonomous Motorsport pose for photos after winning the Indy Autonomous Challenge race at the Indianapolis Speedway in Indianapolis on October 23
Team members of TUM Autonomous Motorsport pose for photos after winning the Indy Autonomous Challenge race at the Indianapolis Speedway in Indianapolis on Oct. 23. Photo: Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images

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