Indianapolis, universities and Italian companies on the track for the Grand Prix of self-driving cars –

Indianapolis, Universit

Ten single-seaters, with a 2,200 cubic centimeter V8 petrol engine, capable of developing a power of 420 horsepower and reaching a speed of 360 kilometers per hour. Two hundred miles per hour. A million dollar prize for those who cross the finish line first and an additional 500,000 dollars for those who arrive later, at one of the most famous racing circuits in the world, Indianapolis. But it won’t be the usual race that glues America to the TV screens every year at the end of May.

This time only the cars will be on the track, the drivers will stay at home. Driving will take care of a software. Indianapolis changes its skin and on October 23, it will enter the future: a race that will accelerate the path towards the car of tomorrow, characterized by completely autonomous driving, because inside those single-seaters there will only be room for a computer system that will simulate the driver. and, to make it more realistic, it cannot weigh more than 70 kilograms.

The competitors

In the race 29 teams from around the world, made up of universities and research centers that in recent weeks are developing the pilot, or the software which will then be installed on cars that are all the same, very similar to those competing at the end of May. All very Italian cars produced by Dallara, in Varano de ‘Melegari, on the Parmesan Apennines, as has been the case for years on the American circuit.

Two Italian cars. One will be led by the pilot who is about to be developed by the Politecnico di Milano who set up the Polimove stable, led by Sergio Savaresi, the other will be a co-production between the universities of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Pisa, the Eth of Zurich and the Polish Academy of Sciences and is headed by Marko Bertogna.

Andrea Pontremoli, managing director of Dallara Automobili
Andrea Pontremoli, managing director of Dallara Automobili

an extraordinary opportunity for growth for the whole sector – says Andrea Pontremoli, managing director of Dallara Automobiles – because the best universities in the world will be able to compare their respective imaginative and data processing skills in what appears to be an extraordinary real-size video game, where the cars, real and fueled by petrol, will run at 360 kilometers per hour. Not for one americanata an end in itself. In 2017 the state of Indiana invested in a program of strong technological innovation, which generated this event. There was an intense collaboration in the preparation of the cars between our technicians and Clemson university, which took care of all the sensors, cameras, laser measurements. The important challenge and the government of Indiana has imposed on us safety levels inside the car that are completely consistent with the presence of a real driver. No derogation. Here, the technological aspects will be developed and amplified. Not only in the circuit, where there will be a very significant amount of sensors, but above all on board the car. The car will be completely autonomous. He will have to reach the finish line first, avoiding going off the track and modifying his speed and direction according to the fixed and moving obstacles, that is the curves and the presence of other competitors on the track, which he will find in his path.

On the occasion of the physical race in Indianapolis in May, the universities competing at the October 23rd Grand Prix will compete for the first time on the Indianapolis circuit in a virtual test. A computer race, but which will virtually replicate all the variables present in the race. All thanks to a software platform that will allow all teams to test the performance of cars on the track, the so-called digital twins, precisely virtual simulation platforms.

They will be completely autonomous cars – underlines Pontremoli -, there will be no one in the pits except with a joystick will be able to intervene in the race. In the preparation phase of these months they are testing themselves on the platform software all possible solutions and an extraordinary experience because you can make mistakes at low cost and this is an extraordinary stimulus for innovation. L’open innovation here: it allows us to bring man back to the center of the game, of his future. I no longer have to think that new technologies can help me to do my usual job in a different way, today I can think about what I really want to do because I am in a position to assume that a technology able to satisfy my needs already exists, is available. And this is a fantastic challenge for all of us.

Evidence of the future

Dallara will make a dozen cars for the Indianapolis Grand Prix in October, all absolutely identical and equipped in the same way with sensors from Clemson University. Then, there will be the actual race and the million dollars which represents an extraordinary stimulus towards technological progress. This race, this huge video game at real size and speed, will be only the pretext for a more concrete evolution of the studies on the new urban mobility. In the United States – concludes Pontremoli – they are thinking of highways with separate lanes for different types of users. Two lanes for cars driven by humans, which will have to obey the usual rules, especially with regard to speed limits and two lanes reserved for self-driving cars, which will be able to whiz at 300 kilometers per hour in complete safety thanks to the set of sensors that will guarantee the complete safety of the journey. Well, if this is the near future, the October Indianapolis race will make it closer and more exciting for us at Dallara to be part of this extraordinary vision.

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