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Inaugural Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League makes inroads into driverless mobility

Inaugural Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League makes inroads into driverless mobility
26 Apr 2024 11:47

MAYS IBRAHIM (ABU DHABI)

The inaugural ASPIRE Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League (A2RL) is set to drive the UAE's autonomous mobility industry forward, participants say.

Abu Dhabi is set to make history this Saturday, as the first edition event is held at the Yas Marina Circuit. This groundbreaking event, expected to draw 10,000 spectators, marks a significant milestone in motorsport, heralded as the largest autonomous racing league globally.

Eight teams from around the world are gearing up for the competition, each vying for a substantial prize purse of $2.25 million. The teams, comprised of coders and engineers, will showcase their expertise in autonomous technology, utilising identical Dallara Super Formula SF23 cars, autonomized through a partnership with Japan Race Promotions and the Technology Innovation Institute (TII).

The race format will feature four autonomous cars on the track simultaneously, promising an exhilarating spectacle for viewers. The competition will include pre-qualifying races, culminating in a thrilling finale with top performers from the Lap Test, Speed Test, and Overtaking Challenge. Adding to the excitement,

TII will pit their autonomous car against former F1 driver Daniil Kvyat in an AI vs Human showdown, demonstrating the capabilities of autonomous driving without GPS assistance.

Speaking with Aletihad on Thursday, during a media tour ahead of the anticipated event, Najwa Aaraj, Chief Researcher at the Autonomous Robotics Research Center at TII, delved into the technologies involved in preparing for the race.

She explained that the competition involves transforming a super formula car, originally designed for human drivers, into an autonomously driven vehicle using AI algorithms. The goal is to surpass human-driven speeds through installing a drive-by-wire system and implementing various AI algorithms for control, perception, and overall driving tasks.

Aaraj noted that this advancement in autonomous mobility, which will be showcased on Saturday, represents just the beginning of a broader exploration into fast mobility applications beyond motorsports, such as search and rescue missions.

"Our aim is to push the boundaries of fast mobility, establishing Abu Dhabi and the UAE as pioneering destinations in this field,"she added. Aletihad also spoke to vice president of future systems at Kintsugi Tareq Albannay, who is leading the Kinetiz team, a collaboration between Singapore Nanyang Technological University and Kintsugi, a UAE-based tech, transportation and sustainability solutions company.

Albannay stressed that autonomous mobility holds immense potential across various industries. "Looking ahead, we envision a promising future for autonomous driving in the UAE, particularly in Abu Dhabi, where the government is actively fostering an environment conducive to AI and autonomous technologies.

"With the infrastructure in place, the UAE is poised to lead the way in transportation and logistics innovation," he said. Albannay further noted that Kintsugi aims to collaborate closely with local universities in the UAE to further advance autonomous technologies and contribute to the region's growth and development.

Enrico Natalizio, the Chief Researcher at the Autonomous Robotics Research Center of the Technology Innovation Institute (TII), shared insights into the capabilities of TII's autonomous vehicle, set to compete against a human-driven vehicle on Saturday.

The car is equipped with advanced technology, including seven cameras, four radars, and three lidars integrated throughout, even in the tires. The data provided by these sensors is processed by the car's central command unit, allowing for real-time decision-making during the race.

One unique aspect of this competition is the presence of multiple cars on the track, each with its own strategy, adding complexity to the decision-making process, said Natalizio.

While humans may currently have an edge, Natalizio expresses confidence that TII's car is rapidly closing the gap in performance. He noted that the focus during the race is on the car's ability to make swift decisions rather than sheer speed. With the stage set for a thrilling competition, all eyes are on Abu Dhabi as it positions itself as a hub for AI and autonomous mobility, paving the way for the future of racing and beyond.

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