A racecar without a driver topped 278km/h, passing another driverless car to win the first ever autonomous racecar challenge at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on the weekend.
The cars, with their bespoke software and systems engineered by the entrant teams into a common racecar chassis supplied by US racecar company Dallara, competed on a time trial basis around the speedway oval, then were released two at a time onto the track. The quickest speed determined the winner.
Each of the cars is equipped with three Luminar Hydra LiDAR (light detection and ranging) sensors to provide 360-degree long-range sensing. There is no intervention permitted from the teams in the pits, so once the car is released on the racetrack, it has to race completely autonomously.
The event was started with a new take on the famous speedway announcement: "Ladies and gentleman, start your software."
The winners this year were Polimove, a combined team from the Politecnico di Milano and the University of Alabama.
The Las Vegas Motor Speedway race was held to coincide with the world's biggest electronics fair, the annual Consumer Electronics Show held every year in the same city.
"Today was the real birth of autonomous racing," Politecnico di Milano team leader Professor Sergio Savaresi said.
"The real high-speed multi-agent racing was pushed to its very limits. The research on autonomous cars will certainly benefit from this historic milestone."