UH takes part in the first-ever international driverless car racing event


The University of Hawaii made history by competing in the Indy Autonomous Challenge, the first ever self-driving racing car event. The team, uh AI Racing Tech, reached its fastest speed ever and placed 6th in the competition.

TUM Autonomous Motorsport of Germany won the final shootout and $1 million. Nine teams representing 21 universities from nine countries qualified for the Oct. 23 competition at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indianapolis 500.

“On race day we pushed our car, our code and ourselves to the limits, hitting 115 miles per hour, the fastest our car has ever run and within 25 miles per hour of winning speeds. “, said Chris Battiste, uh AI Member of the Racing Tech team and former uh Research scientist from Mānoa. “It was a wild ride as we came together as a team last week and made the final changes and improvements needed for the race. Although we are all saddened by the skid of the car, it was caused by issues materials beyond our control, and we have high hopes for the next race.

Battista added: “I’m extremely proud of everything we’ve learned and what the team has achieved, and I can’t wait to see AI Racing Tech back on the track and faster than ever, sometime next year.

Generator AI to perform high speeds, tactical decisions

car on a race track

The Indy Autonomous Challenge is similar to other auto racing competitions, minus the need for someone behind the wheel. The driver is replaced by a variety of sensors that act as the eyes and ears of the vehicle, and a powerful computer to make the many path planning, tactical and strategic decisions needed to deliver the vehicle’s maximum 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.

uh AI Racing Tech was created thanks to a uh Maui College Spring 2020 Autonomous Vehicle Technology Course. Gary Passonthe course instructor, teamed up with uh Mānoa’s College of Engineering to provide additional expertise and give students hands-on learning experience.

car on a track with people next to it
uh AI Racing Tech prepares for the race. (Photo credit: Indianapolis Motor Speedway)

uh Maui College Assistant Professors Elisabeth Dubuit and Marc Hoffman, uh Assistant Professor Manoa Song ZhuoyuanSpring 2021 Mechanical Engineering Alumni Battista Daryl Suyatjunior in mechanical engineering Liliane Shibataand private sector partners, as well as experts and students from the University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, San Diego, all played major roles in the team.

the uh AI The Racing Tech team is supported by several local corporations and other industry ventures, including the Maui Robotic Vehicle Association, st. Anthony School STEM program, VectorAero SARLnew eagle SARL, ADLINKLuxonis, PointOneNav, Emlid, RockWestComposites and others.

To learn more, visit the uh AI The Racing Tech Twitter page.

This work is an example of uh Mānoa’s goals of improving student achievement (PDF) and Research Excellence: Advancing the Enterprise of Research and Creative Work (PDF), two of the four objectives defined in the Strategic Plan 2015-2025 (PDF), updated December 2020.

-By Marc Arakaki


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