Roborace Team Prepares for First Competition

CMU enters the first U.S. team in the international autonomous vehicle race

An autonomous car programmed by a Carnegie Mellon University student team will race for the first time Sept. 24-25 when Roborace, an international competition for autonomous vehicles (AVs), begins its season on the island of Anglesey in Wales.

In Roborace, each team prepares their own artificial intelligence algorithms to control their race car, but all of the teams use identically prepared AVs, compute platforms and venues. In preparation for this month’s race, the CMU team has been working this summer on the fundamentals of driving and on building an optimal driving path, but only this week have had the chance to run their computer code on a hardware simulator.

A computer simulation lets the CMU Roborace team test their algorithm to autonomously operate their vehicle on the course.

"Our minimum goal is to be able to just get the car to start driving crash-free for now," said Anirudh Koul, an alumnus of the Language Technologies Institute’s Master of Computational Data Science (MCDS) program and the team’s coach. But the CMU team, the first U.S. team in Roborace, is confident that it will soon be competitive with other teams that have previous experience in the racing series.

"We are true to the CMU spirit - underpromise, overdeliver," Koul added.

Roborace delayed its season because of COVID-19 concerns. Its new season now includes 12 races hosted over six events. No spectators will be allowed for safety reasons and the teams will be able to operate their cars remotely if they are unable to travel to the race courses. The races will be livestreamed on Twitch. Times and dates are subject to change, but fans will be notified if they follow Roborace on Twitch.

The CMU team was organized by members of the MCDS program and now includes eleven students from the Language Technologies Institute, the Robotics Institute and the Information Networking Institute.

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