Two UWaterloo Grad Students Race Driverless Car at the Indy Motor Speedway
Teams from around the world built autonomous vehicles to compete on the world's largest race track.
Two graduate students from the University of Waterloo took part in incredible competition this past weekend, teaming up with students from other schools to design and race a driverless car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway!
Competitors from around the world
Students from nine countries — together representing 21 different universities — worked since 2019 to design and build an autonomous car to race in the event. The Indy Autonomous Challenge took place at one of the world's most famous race tracks, and offered student engineers the chance to bring driverless cars to unheard-of speeds. At stake? Over $1.5 million US in prizes!
Brian Mao, a master's student in electrical and computer engineering, and Ben Zhang, a grad student in applied mathematics, represented the University of Waterloo alongside teammates from schools like the Rochester Institute of Technology and MIT.
Working with a modified Dallara AV-21 racer
Their team competed with eight others from schools across the globe. Each team worked with a modified Dallara AV-21 race car, though specific choices about piloting algorithms and processing stacks were left up to the student competitors.
The teams were able to test their designs in several simulated races, but getting out onto the track at the Indy was the first time they really saw what their car could do. Cars reached top speeds of almost 250 kilometres per hour on the track!
Final results, and looking forward
In the end, due to a GPS problem, Mao and Zhang's car crashed into a wall on its first lap. Though the outcome wasn't what they were hoping for, the team learned a lot — and they're certain they could do better next time.
TUM Autonomous Motorsport from the Technical University of Munich took home the top prize with a car that completed two laps at an average speed of over 200 kilometres per hour. A big congratulations to them, and to all the competitors for their incredible achievements.
Learn more about the Indy Autonomous Challenge