Humans Remain Central to A2RL’s Autonomous Operations

Previewing the inaugural A2RL autonomous race: a deep dive into the cutting-edge vehicles and the masterminds steering them.

As preparations begin at Yas Marina Circuit for A2RL’s first-ever event featuring a groundbreaking four-car fully autonomous race, particular focus must be placed on two crucial elements of the competition: the vehicles and the teams supporting them.

Every participant in the Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League begins with an identical vehicle: a Dallara Super Formula car. This car, which is normally seen in the Japanese Super Formula series, has undergone numerous changes and upgrades to adapt it for complete autonomous operation, now designated as EAV24. Apart from Formula One, the Dallara stands out as the quickest open-wheel racing car globally.

The vehicle is made with sustainable composites, blending carbon with flax – a natural material that has similar lightweight and rigid qualities to the conventional carbon fiber obtained from Swiss company Bcomp. The design aims to improve aerodynamics for better speed and handling while also enhancing the visual appeal.

At the front and back, innovative pushrod suspension and adaptive dampers have been installed to guarantee that it can navigate corners with minimal body roll and at high speeds. The suspension system, like the vehicle’s body, has been engineered to be as compact and lightweight as regulations permit.

Within the center of the vehicle lies a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder internal combustion engine; A2RL does not belong to an electric series, and it generates a powerful 550 horsepower. This power is then transmitted to the rear wheels through a six-speed gearbox.

Dr. Tom McCarthy, Executive Director of the ASPIRE Group, the organization running A2RL, describes it as a race car through and through: “We want to create drama and excitement, and with EVA24 we’ve got it. It’s based on one of the best race cars in the world, it sounds incredible, and it’s very fast. With that as our basis, we’ve got the perfect canvas for our goal: fully autonomous extreme race. Come for the car, stay for the technological spectacle.”

When you’re in an A2RL car, you’ll see the autonomous stack in place of a driver. This setup includes sensors, actuators, computers, 360-degree cameras, and LiDAR technology to visually perceive the track and all its elements. These various technologies collaborate seamlessly not just to maximize speed within safety limits but also to outperform rival vehicles.

The technology aspect is just one part of the equation. All cars are constructed based on set specifications, using identical hardware for each competitor. It’s up to the teams to develop software that maximizes the use of advanced technology. Their efforts influence how well the car’s Controller, LiDAR, and Planner operate, enabling them to move, perceive, and make decisions more effectively – hopefully surpassing their competitors. While the potential winner in A2RL may already be identifiable, the ultimate victor remains uncertain until the cars hit the track. The answer will be revealed on April 27th, unveiling which team has what it takes to emerge victorious.

The blend of hardware and software in A2RL can only be achieved by individuals. The human touch may not be present in the cockpit, but it is definitely felt behind the scenes. The participating teams represent a diverse range of countries including the UAE, China, Singapore, Germany, Hungary, Italy, and the USA. Comprised of a combination of motorsport engineers, programmers, and scientists, they form an unconventional yet crucial group for the advancement of autonomous racing. Regardless of your background or origin, as long as you possess talent and a passion for winning, A2RL will embrace you wholeheartedly.

Lawrence Walter, Team Principal of American team Code19, understands the importance of 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 and educational backgrounds to compete in Abu Dhabi and secure the $2.25M prize.”

The aim of the contest, besides putting on an entertaining spectacle, is to take the knowledge gained on the racetrack and implement it in various industries – such as automotive safety, logistics, aviation, and more. A considerable amount of time and effort is dedicated to A2RL with a strong determination to advance technology, which has even attracted attention from major partners like ADNOC.

The tale of A2RL is in its infancy, promising excitement with speedy vehicles and ingenious minds at the helm. This marks the debut of self-driving cars entering international competitions. They will face a series of authentic and high-profile challenges, not just to claim a remarkable prize of $2.25M but also to advance the technology that is destined to become ubiquitous in our daily lives.

The competition will be aired live on this platform, and to find out additional information about A2RL, click at this link.

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