Uncrewed Systems Technology 046

26 Dossier | IAC AV-21 the software driver that would pilot these vehicles, and the vehicles would be fixed with a common hardware set-up. So not only are all the teams using identical machinery but everything from tyre pressure to downforce has to be common across the board.” The machinery takes the form of the AV-21, a racecar issued with all the necessary subsystems for autonomous navigation, path-planning and collision avoidance. It is an open-wheel, single- seat vehicle with the front wing, rear wing and sidepods typical of IndyCar and Formula racing. It is 4876 mm long, 1930 mm wide (with a 2971 mm wheelbase), 1156.5 mm in height and has a kerb weight of 726 kg. Rather than being a blank-sheet design, it is a modification of the standard-issue chassis for Indy Lights, the NTT IndyCar Series feeder championship, much like Formula Two and Three are to Formula One. It has been developed in collaboration between Parma-based Italian constructor Dallara Automobili and Dallara USA in Speedway, Indiana. With the backing of industry and academia, the IAC was officially announced in October 2019, with a $1 million prize up for grabs. The first real-world on-track testing began in spring 2021, using AV-21s supplied to teams that made it through an initial all-virtual competition, in which their software algorithms competed in simulated races. At the time of writing, the IAC had hosted nine teams formed through 21 universities from around the world. The first official live racing event took place in October 2021, with teams competing on the basis of time trials at IMS, in which TUM Autonomous Motorsport from the Technische Universitat Munchen emerged as the winner. In January 2022, as part of CES, the IAC held the world’s first head-to- head driverless race, debuting a wave of innovations in autonomous high- speed passing which, along with the $150,000 grand prize, was won by Team PoliMove, representing the Politecnico di Milano and the University of Alabama. These, combined with setting the world autonomous land speed record of 192.2 mph (309.3 kph) during AUVSI Xponential in April 2022 and spinning out the autonomy start-up drive blocks from TUM, have cemented the IAC’s mission to foster innovations in driverless systems through motorsport. To better understand the systems at the heart of these innovations and competitions, we present here a deep dive into the AV-21, and the many high-end technologies that have been integrated together in and around its chassis to make it one of the most powerful tools in existence for pushing the limits of intelligent autonomy. The AV-21’s development history Although based closely on the IL-15 chassis, creating the AV-21 was not a simple copy-and-paste exercise but a complex process that depended on several key commitments. The first came in the summer of 2019 from Clemson University, which as Mitchell explains has a programme in its Department of Automotive Engineering that poses a prototype vehicle design challenge to a cohort of graduate students each year. October/November 2022 | Uncrewed Systems Technology The teams’ software development and the copious data going back to suppliers is expected to reveal how safe commercial autonomy at 80-100 mph could be engineered The AV-21 is to be technologically ‘refreshed’ with new, cutting-edge subsystems each year, with an AV-24 potentially to come each year