Indy Challenge Debuted Autonomous Racecar at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The Indy Challenge plans to race autonomous vehicles head-to-head in October 2021.
Brad Bergan

The Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC) is debuting the first-ever autonomous racecar at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) on Monday, live during a virtual CES 2021 demonstration at 2:00 PM EST.

We're not kidding when we say the $1.5 million university prize competition will involve the world's first car-versus-car, high-speed autonomous race, live at the IMS, according to the project's official website.

The race will commence on October 23, 2021.


Dallara IL-15
The Dallara IL-15 will serve as the basis for each competing team's vehicle entry. Source: Indy Autonomous Challenge

UPDATE Jan. 11, 2:27 AM EST: Autonomous racecar Dallara IL-15 debut

While at CES 2021, Stefano dePonti, CEO & GM of Dallara, unveiled the new autonomous race car that the teams will use for the competition, the Dallara IL-15.

Dallara IL-15 Front
Each Dallara IL-15 vehicle has a value of $1 million. Source: Indy Autonomous Challenge

According to the press release of the unveiling, Paul Mitchell, president and CEO of ESN, and co-organizer of the IAC, said: "The Dallara-built IAC racecar is the most advanced, fastest autonomous vehicle ever developed. Our IAC sponsors are providing radar, LiDAR, optical cameras, and advanced computers, bringing the value of each vehicle to $1 million.”

Thirty teams will compete, all using their version of the newly-unveiled vehicle — which is a retrofitted F1 car.

UPDATE Jan. 11, 2:22 PM EST: Winner must cross finish line in 25 minutes or less

The top prize for the challenge is $1 million ($1.5 million cumulatively, for all participants), given to the first team to cross the finish line in 25 minutes or less, after completing 20 laps.

The second and third prizes will be $250,000 and $50,000, respectively, giving all of the participating teams a high-stakes motivation to win.

Dallara IL-15 Whole Car
First simulation races for the vehicle will happen on May 27, 2021. Source: Indy Autonomous Challenge

UPDATE Jan. 11, 2:20 PM EST: 2021 will see serious advancements in autonomous racecars

While events and preparation for the final race have already been taking place, 2021 is slated to be a busy year for the autonomous challenge race teams. The first simulation race will take place on May 27, 2021, giving the participants a chance to test out their cars in a real-world environment — without the high-stakes. 

The final race for all of the prize money will take place on October 23 of 2021, meaning there’s just 10 months to wait until one of the highest-stakes, highest-speed, autonomous races of all time.

Most Popular

UPDATE Jan. 11, 2:15 PM EST: Dallara IL-15 set for Indycar series races, fully 'autonomized'

As part of the challenge, teams will have to modify a Dallara IL-15, which is the racecar that is used in the NTT Indycar Series races. The racecar has been fitted with hardware and controls that enable the autonomization of the vehicles, so the teams will focus primarily on writing the software for the cars.

The goal will be to out-race all of the other cars, notably while traveling at very high speeds around the famous race track.

UPDATE Jan. 11, 2:10 PM EST: $1.5-million prize competition announced, October 2021

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway along with Energy Systems network announced a $1.5 million prize competition to take place in October of 2021 as the inaugural race. The race, called the Indy Autonomous Challenge, is specifically geared towards college and university teams, giving them the sole goal of creating the fastest autonomous race car around the track.

UPDATE Jan. 11, 2:03 PM EST: Indianapolis Motor Speedway apt for new transportation tech

The organizers of the event chose IMS because of its reputation in history — a place where new horseless technology was tested for the first time in the early 20th century.

Dallara IL-15 Simulated
More than 500 university students will compete for the $1.5-million prize. Source: Indy Autonomous Challenge

Indy Challenge unveiling autonomous racecars at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The IAC advances cutting-edge technologies in driverless vehicles — and motorsports in general. Additionally, more than 500 university students are vying for the $1.5-million prize in the world's first high-speed, drone-versus-drone race at the renowned IMS arena.

In December, another autonomous racecar event took a turn for the worse when the Roborace team's SIT Acronis Autonomous racecar drove straight into the wall — only seconds after the race began. Hopefully, the upcoming October 2021 race will have better luck.


Editor's note: An earlier version of this article suggested a live race was happening during CES 2021, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This is incorrect, as today was simply the debut for the autonomous racecar, to enter the competition in October 2021. IE regrets this error.

message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron