Driverless cars compete during the Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on April 27, 2024. The A2RL vehicles, which did not have a driver or even a driver's seat, were controlled by a large amount of technological equipment, including cameras, processing units and sensors. Photo Credit: Anadolu via Getty Images, Video: A2RL

Technology UAE13. May 2024

Driverless Racing: the Track to Safer Roads!

A driverless race took place in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, the first of its kind, where A.I.-powered vehicles were tested as the presence of self-driving cars on public roads is expected to grow.

“More than just a technological showcase, autonomous racing is a critical research frontier,” says Madhur Behl, a computer scientist at the University of Virginia. “When autonomous systems can reliably function in these extreme conditions, they inherently possess a buffer when operating in the ordinary conditions of street traffic.”

Eight turbocharged vehicles with a six-speed gearbox and 550 horsepower took part in the inaugural competition of the Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League. In place of a cockpit, the racing cars were equipped with cameras, computers, and sensors. A machine-learning software tracked the vehicles’ tyre and brake temperature and controlled the steering, shifting, accelerating, braking, and overtaking. Only four cars qualified for the final, and it took them one hour to complete eight laps around the 5.3 km track. The driverless race is an important sign of progress as public scepticism remains high. “The Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League is all about road safety,” explains Tom McCarthy, executive director of ASPIRE, part of the Abu Dhabi government’s Advanced Technology Research Council.

Smithsonian Magazine

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