A2RL Relies on Human Connection Despite Autonomy

Previewing the inaugural A2RL autonomous race: A deep dive into the vehicles and the masterminds.

With the approaching debut event of A2RL at Yas Marina Circuit, featuring a groundbreaking four-car fully autonomous race, there is a crucial focus on two key elements of the competition: the vehicles themselves and the teams supporting them.

Every participant in the Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League begins with identical equipment: a Dallara Super Formula car. This car, initially designed for use in the Japanese Super Formula series, has undergone numerous adjustments and customized enhancements to enable full autonomous operation and is referred to as EAV24. Apart from Formula One, the Dallara stands as the swiftest open-wheel racing vehicle globally.

The vehicle features eco-friendly composites. By blending carbon with flax – an organic material with similar lightness and stiffness as conventional carbon fiber supplied by Swiss company Bcomp. The design is optimized to enhance aerodynamics, create downforce for improved cornering performance, and, of course, to deliver a sleek appearance.

At the front and back, advanced pushrod suspension and adaptive dampers have been installed to guarantee that the vehicle can navigate corners smoothly and swiftly. The suspension system, akin to its body, has been crafted to maximize space efficiency and minimize weight within the limits of regulations.

Located within the vehicle lies a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder internal combustion engine – not part of an electric series – which generates an impressive 550 horsepower. This power is transferred to the rear wheels through a six-speed gearbox.

Dr. Tom McCarthy, Executive Director of the ASPIRE Group, who oversees A2RL, describes it as a true race car: “We aim to generate drama and excitement, and with EVA24, we have achieved just that. It is built upon one of the finest race cars globally, boasts an incredible sound, and delivers top-notch speed. This forms the ideal foundation for our objective: a fully autonomous extreme race. Attend for the car, remain for the technological marvel.”

When you’re in an A2RL car, you’ll see the autonomous stack in place of a driver. It incorporates sensors, actuators, computers, 360-degree cameras, and LiDAR technology to visually perceive the track and its surroundings. This blend of technologies collaborates not just to maximize speed within safety limits but also to outperform other competitors.

The physical components are just a part of the equation. All cars are constructed according to a set standard, ensuring that all competitors have identical hardware. It is up to the teams to develop software that maximizes the use of cutting-edge technology. Their contribution enhances the performance of the car’s Controller, LiDAR, and Planner, enabling better movement, vision, and decision-making—ideally surpassing the competition. While the potential winner of A2RL may have already been determined, the true champion will only be revealed once the cars hit the track. The final results, determining who possesses the winning qualities, will be unveiled on April 27th.

The harmony between hardware and software can only be achieved through human intervention. While humans may not be physically present in the cockpit during A2RL, their presence is definitely felt in the garages. The diverse teams representing the UAE, China, Singapore, Germany, Hungary, Italy, and the USA consist of a blend of motorsport experts, developers, and researchers – not your typical motorsport lineup, but one that is crucial for advancing, evolving, and excelling in autonomous racing. Regardless of your background or origins, as long as you possess talent and a fierce determination to succeed, A2RL will embrace you wholeheartedly.

Lawrence Walter, Team Principal of American team Code19, understands the importance of having a skilled team: “In the race to innovate, Code19 is driven by our talented and diverse race engineers. They were carefully selected from various sectors such as industry and academia, to come to Abu Dhabi and secure the $2.25M prize.”

The objective of the contest, besides putting on an entertaining performance, is to take the knowledge acquired on the racetrack and implement it in various areas beyond just automotive safety, such as logistics, aviation, and more. A2RL has a long-term dedication to advancing technology and has attracted the attention of key partners like ADNOC.

A2RL is embarking on its exciting journey, fueled by speedy cars and a team of intelligent individuals. This marks the debut of self-driving vehicles in international competitions. These cars will face a range of tangible and high-profile tests, aiming not just to secure a remarkable $2.25M reward but also to advance the technology that is destined to become a ubiquitous part of our future lives.

The competition will be streamed in real time on this platform, so if you’re interested in finding out more about A2RL, simply click on this link.

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