Update of January 9, 2022: uh AI Racing Tech had the opportunity to run an exhibition race allowing them to do a few laps to show their friends, family and sponsors on the morning of the competition. The car reached 100 miles per hour, but unfortunately encountered a hardware problem which caused its GPS to disconnect. The car hit the inside wall of the pits checking them out for the rest of the day. The team members are still extremely proud of what they have been able to accomplish and are very excited for the next race. This race took them to the next level and they greatly improved their perception software and vehicle controller.
Five of the nine teams qualified for the main event. PoliMOVE was the winner of the Autonomous Challenge @ THOSE.
The University of Hawaii will once again make history by competing in the world’s first self-driving car racing competition. uh AI Racing Tech, which includes students and faculty from uh and the University of California, San Diego is heading to Las Vegas for the Autonomous Challenge @ THOSE (Consumer Electronics Show) on January 7th. Nine teams from eight countries representing 19 universities will compete in the single-elimination contest, with the winner taking home over $200,000.
uh AI Racing Tech hopes to improve on its 6th place finish in October at the Indy Autonomous Challenge, the first-ever self-driving race car event, held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“It was a very important result for us, but we think we can improve on it and add to it,” said uh AI Racing Tech Team Director Gary Passon. “This event, we’re really focused on how to improve our reliability and improve our whereabouts information and in doing so, be able to move up the competitive ladder.”
In self-driving car racing, the driver is replaced by a variety of sensors that act as the eyes and ears of the vehicle. These are supported by a powerful computer that helps make the many trajectory planning, tactical and strategic decisions needed to deliver maximum vehicle performance. The system is an example of artificial intelligence, which requires engineers to create algorithms to program the car to generate human behaviors and interpret complex sensor data.
At the Indianapolis meet, the teams raced individually for the fastest time. Each car had to navigate the course and its stationary environment efficiently. The upcoming competition at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will pit one car against another car simultaneously on the same track. They will have to pass the other car several times during the race. The cars will not only need to navigate the track itself autonomously, but also locate and overtake another moving vehicle. Teams will start the competition individually for seeding, then it will be a single elimination to determine a winner.
“Two cars will come out at the same time and try to pass each other, so ‘A’ will try to pass ‘B’ and ‘B’ will try to pass ‘A’,” Passon said. “Speeds will always increase, so teams need to prepare differently than they did for the Indianapolis Challenge, which was mostly against its own ability.”
Passon added: “It’s a much tougher challenge for the teams and the time between the two events is quite short, so the teams are working really hard to prepare to be able to meet those demands for this particular release.”
The race will be broadcast live on the Autonomous Challenge @ THOSE website and on Twitch @IndyAChallenge. Coverage is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. (HST) on January 7. All teams that raced in Indianapolis will also compete in Las Vegas, including TUM Autonomous Motorsport of Germany, which won the top prize of $1 million.
Foundation built on the valley of the island
uh AI Racing Tech was created thanks to a uh Maui College Spring 2020 Autonomous Vehicle Technology Course. Passon, the course instructor, partnered with uh Mānoa’s College of Engineering and experts from CPU San Diego to provide additional expertise and give students hands-on learning experience.
Passon met and worked with CPU San Diego professor Jack Silberman on qualifying for the Indy Autonomous Challenge, which was an extensive process including testing his software in an advanced simulation system against other teams in May 2021. Silberman said the partnership had been extremely beneficial and it has many students lining up to possibly be part of the program.
“It was just an amazing partnership and collaboration,” Passon said. “The talent base and skills that Jack and his team have brought to the event clearly helps to ensure that our joint effort is positioned for the medium to long term. We do not see this event as a one-off event, but just a another important step in the lasting collaboration between the universities and between Jack and me to develop this type of program.
the uh AI The Racing Tech team is supported by uh Maui College Assistant Professors Elisabeth Dubuit and Jung Park, uh Assistant Professors Manoa Song Zhuoyuan and Il Yong Chun, as well as the former uh manoa researcher Chris Battiste, Spring 2021 Mechanical Engineering Alumnus Daryl Suyat, junior in mechanical engineering Liliane Shibata, and other uh Mānoa students and graduates. She also proudly works with many private sector partners, as well as other experts and students from CPU San Diego and CPU Berkeley.
The team is also supported by several local corporations and other industry ventures, including the Maui Robotic Vehicle Association, Street. Anthony School ROD program, VectorAero SARL, new eagle SARL, ADLINK, Luxonis, PointOneNav, Emlid, RockWestComposites and many more.
Follow the updates on the uh AI The Racing Tech Twitter page.
-Through Marc Arakaki