Bringing AI up to speed—autonomous auto racing promises safer driverless cars on the road

The field of autonomous racing didn’t begin with race cars on professional race tracks but with miniature cars at robotics conferences. In 2015, my colleagues and I engineered a 1/10 scale autonomous race car. We transformed a remote-controlled car into a small but powerful research and educational tool, which I named F1tenth, playing on the name of the traditional Formula One, or F1, race car. The F1tenth platform is now used by over 70 institutions worldwide to construct their miniaturized autonomous racers.

The F1tenth Autonomous Racing Grand Prix is now a marquee event at robotics conferences where teams from across the planet gather, each wielding vehicles that are identical in hardware and sensors, to engage in what is essentially an intense “”battle of algorithms.”” Victory on the track is claimed not by raw power but by the advanced AI algorithms’ control of the cars.

F1tenth has also emerged as an engaging and accessible gateway for students to delve into robotics research. Over the years, I’ve reached thousands of students via my courses and online lecture series, which explains the process of how to build, drive and autonomously race these vehicles.

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