Stand aside, Lewis Hamilton. Get some rest, Scott Dixon. There's a new motorsport gig in town and no drivers are needed.
We're talking about the Indy Autonomous Challenge, an auto race for driverless cars.
The race will take place on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway circuit in October 2021. This week the organizers unveiled the chassis that will house the autonomous technology of each team.
Participants include 30 teams from public, private and academic institutions around the world. A cool $ 1 million goes to the team that crosses the line first. Organizers say the goal of the competition is to encourage students to "imagine, invent and prove a new generation of automated vehicle software and inspire the next generation of STEM talent".
To ensure a level playing field, each participant receives exactly the same racing car – the new-generation Dallara IL-15, which is powered by Mazda's 2.0-liter four-cylinder MZR-R turbocharged engine. This lets competitors develop the crucial autonomous software that guides their car over the track.
The competition spans five laps and ends with the big race in October, where contestants are challenged to reach the finish line in 25 minutes or less (120 mph average) in a 20 lap multicar ride.
The winning team will receive $ 1 million, while prizes of $ 250,000 and $ 50,000 will go to teams that finish second and third, respectively.
The first round of the competition included a paper submission outlining the team's approach to creating an autonomous racing car. The following rounds focused on designing, building and testing the self-driving vehicle.
The Indy Autonomous Challenge isn't the only event trying to drive autonomous races. There is also Roborace, whose organizers have been working on their own events using self-driving racing cars for the past few years.
In 2019, a Roborace car reached 175.49 mph, setting a new speed record for driverless cars. Another Roborace car, however, appeared to challenge the word's silliest race start last year when it left the grid and crashed straight into a wall.
There is of course still a lot to be done to create the perfect autonomous racing car, but competitions like this inspire great minds to work towards this exciting goal. We can't wait to see what the Indy Autonomous Challenge teams come up with.