Michigan State University is racing into the future by entering into a two-year agreement with Politecnico di Milano in Italy, and the University of Alabama to participate in the Indy Autonomous Challenge. MSU is the first and only team from Michigan to race in the IAC series, which officially launched in 2019 and brings together academic institutions and public-private partnerships to challenge university students from across the globe to invent and test a new generation of automated vehicle software — including advanced driver assistance systems, or ADAS — to operate fully autonomous race cars.
During the IAC, race cars operate autonomously — without a driver — at speeds near 200 mph. Since its inception, the challenge has grown from a single race to a series of international racing events. Politecnico di Milano joined the future of racing program under the team name PoliMOVE and has won four of the five IAC annual racing series. With the addition of MSU, the team will now race under the name PoliMOVE-MSU, with the next race slated for June 30, 2024, in Monza, Italy, and the presentation of the new AV-24 PoliMOVE-MSU car on Jan. 11 during the Consumer Technology Association’s annual CES convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, which showcases breakthrough technologies and global innovators across the entire tech landscape.
“Participating in the Indy Autonomous Challenge is a remarkable way for MSU Mobility to remain on the cutting edge of ADAS and sensor technologies, bringing new innovations to life in one of the most extreme scenarios a vehicle could be asked to perform under,” said Judd Herzer, MSU Mobility director. “It also gives us another impactful way to collaborate with automotive and tech companies and create opportunities and connections for our engineering talent and software developers.”
Together, the PoliMOVE-MSU team will race with a Dallara-built AV-24 — the official vehicle of the IAC —retrofitted with hardware and controls to enable automation, with artificial intelligence, or AI, drivers programmed by team members.
The collaborative team will be led by Sergio Savaresi, professor of automated control at Politecnico di Milano, with support from Daniel Morris, associate professor in the departments of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering at MSU, who will lead a technical team from MSU. Both universities will have student researchers contributing as well.
“We have had a successful run in the Indy Autonomous Challenge to this point and look forward to developing a true partnership with Michigan State University in the upcoming year,” said Savaresi. “Their support, exceptional engineering program and impressive research in autonomous sensors and ADAS will be an asset to our team.”
Sensor and software developments the team innovates through this challenge will lead to increased safety and performance in motorsports and commercial transportation, with a special focus on solving ‘edge case’ scenarios which are problems that occur only in extreme operating environments, such as avoiding obstacles at high speeds while maintaining vehicular control. Beyond accelerating the pace of autonomous, high-speed innovation, IAC works to attract and inspire the next generation of science, technology, engineering and math talent.
“I could not be more pleased to see this partnership come to fruition,” said Satish Udpa, University Distinguished Professor of electrical and computer engineering at MSU. “This is the future of racing and helps put the future of mobility technologies on an expansive, thrilling international stage, highlighting how exciting STEM is and, hopefully, attracting future generations to work in the mobility sector.”
MSU Mobility participated in initial discussions at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May 2019 to help envision the self-driving race car challenge. For information about becoming a team sponsor and partnering with MSU Mobility on this program, contact David Bertram, director of economic development for the College of Engineering at MSU.