AI-powered cars sizzle Abu Dhabi race track


Yas Marina Autonomous Racing League Image: Ethara

Motorsport embraced a new era on April 27th as the new Abu Dhabi (UAE) Autonomous Racing League (A2RL) roared into action.

‘AI BUSINESS’ stated that a team from Germany’s Technical University of Munich (TUM) claimed victory at the Yas Marina Circuit on Yas Island, near Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in an event that was described as “bringing a Science experiment to the racetrack” by pushing the boundaries of autonomous technology.

The Technical University of Munich (TUM) is a public research university in Munich, Germany, that specializes in engineering, technology, medicine, and Natural and Applied Sciences.

The 60,000-capacity Yas Marina Circuit is the venue for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The circuit was designed by Hermann Tilke (German engineer and motorsport racing driver) and is situated on Yas Island, near Abu Dhabi (UAE). It is a technologically advanced 5.554 km (3.452 mile) race track.

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is a Formula One motor racing event. The first race took place on November 1st, 2009, and was held at the Hermann Tilke-designed Yas Marina Circuit on Yas Island, near Abu Dhabi. It was announced in early 2007 at the Abu Dhabi F1 Festival.

London (UK)-based the Formula One, commonly known as the Formula 1 or F1, is the highest class of international racing for open-wheel single-seater formula racing cars sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA).

Paris (France)-based the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) is an association established on June 20th, 1904 to represent the interests of the motoring organizations and the motor car users. It is the governing body for many auto racing events, including Formula One. The FIA also promotes road safety around the world.

The Yas Island is a man-made island in Abu Dhabi, UAE. It occupies a total land area of 25 km². It is a leisure island and one of the largest tourism projects in Abu Dhabi. On the Yas Island sits the Yas Marina Circuit which has hosted the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix since 2009.

‘AI BUSINESS’ further stated that while the racing clearly has some way to go before it can compete with the spectacle offered by Formula One or the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR), the organizers had no hesitation in hailing the A2RL as a success.

Daytona Beach (US)-based the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, LLC is an American auto racing sanctioning and operating company that is best known for stock car racing. It is considered to be one of the top-ranked motorsports organizations in the world and is one of the largest spectator sports in America.

Eight teams representing groups from countries as diverse as the United States, Germany, Switzerland, China, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Hungary, Singapore, and Italy took part vying for a $2.25 million prize fund.

All had access to the same car, the 2023 Dallara Super Formula, which in its standard form is recognized as the fastest open-wheel race car in the world behind an F1 machine, delivering in the region of 550 bhp and capable of speeds of up to 186 mph.

In A2RL, it is equipped with seven Sony cameras, four ZF radar sensors and three Seyond lidar units as part of an autonomous driving stack that also features an Nvidia graphic processing unit (GPU). The variable between the teams lies in how they use coding skills, artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms and machine learning to teach the cars how to drive.

Among the elements AI has to master are understanding the grip levels, managing the tire temperatures, predicting the movements of the rival cars, and overtaking.

While there have been autonomous racing elsewhere previously, the A2RL was the first time that four AI-driven race cars have taken to the track simultaneously, having qualified for an eight-lap shootout via a time trial.

The event was organized by the Program Development and Management That Inspires Innovation (ASPIRE), a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi’s Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC), and despite the obvious teething problems, the head honcho of ASPIRE Stephane Timpano was pleased with how it turned out – “The launch of A2RL has reshaped the landscape of sports and technology, leaving a lasting impact for years to come. Moving forward, we’re broadening our focus to include different vehicle types, while actively attracting the top talent worldwide to showcase their mettle.”

The Program Development and Management That Inspires Innovation (ASPIRE) is the business development and program management pillar of Abu Dhabi’s Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC). It focuses on research that leads to technological advances and practical applications. ASPIRE’s goals include: Shaping Abu Dhabi’s research and development (R&D) strategy, funding research, responding to market dynamics, identifying challenges, and managing the R&D projects.

Masdar City (UAE)-based the Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC) is an Abu Dhabi Government entity responsible for shaping advanced research and development (R&D) for technology in Abu Dhabi.

AI-powered Cars

A ‘LinkedIn Post By Ethara’ stated, “Recently, the Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League, showcasing autonomous AI-powered cars, took place at the Yas Marina CircuitThe Meeting Place of Champions. Bringing a Science experiment to the racetrack, the inaugural race pushed the boundaries of autonomous technology while adding entertainment value to the fans. The A2RL drew over 10,000 spectators at the circuit and captured the attention of over 600,000 online viewers in just 12 hours.”

“Fans at the event were immersed in insightful Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) workshops, captivating the virtual reality (VR) challenges, and the Gran Turismo (a series of racing simulation video games) simulators among the other activities. The event concluded with a dazzling firework and drone display, illuminating the iconic Yas Marina Circuit.”

The ‘LinkedIn Post By Ethara’ further stated, “The Ethara-operated venue continues to set new heights in terms of innovation, technology and fan experiences.”

Abu Dhabi-based Ethara is a global event and venue management company that operates venues in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The company’s name comes from the Arabic word for ‘thrill’.

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