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Ansys Indy Autonomous Challenge Simulation Race

Before university teams from around the globe compete in the Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC) race currently scheduled for October 2021, they first had to prove their software in the virtual world at the Ansys IAC Simulation Race, held on June 30th 2021. Watch the incredibly exciting, action-packed race to see who won.

Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC)

We are at the cusp of a transportation and mobility revolution. Autonomy is one of the key pillars of this revolution and motorsport has a proven history of accelerating innovation and bringing new technology into the mainstream.

Led by Energy Systems Network (ESN), working in close collaboration with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), this $1.5 million university prize competition has been set for teams to exponentially innovate and race fully autonomous vehicles (AVs) head-to-head on the famed IMS track, currently scheduled for October 23, 2021. Before the teams' racecars can be let loose on the real circuit, they first had to demonstrate the performance of their racecar controllers in the virtual world – at the Ansys Indy Autonomous Challenge Simulation Race that took place on June 30th, 2021.

Simulation: It’s Not a Game

Racing on an iconic professional speedway takes years of practice, experience and fearlessness. How can all this expertise be embedded in the artificial intelligence software that controls an autonomous racecar? The answer: next generation, high-accuracy multiphysics simulation is the only way race teams can exponentially innovate, explore myriad potential scenarios the cars will encounter on race day, navigate safely and give themselves a chance to win.

As the exclusive simulation sponsor of the IAC, Ansys provides the teams with cutting-edge tools and training, including Ansys VRXPERIENCE Driving Simulator powered by SCANeR and Ansys SCADE Suite hosted on Microsoft Azure.

Once the racecar software controllers of the teams were submitted, Ansys conducted an entirely virtual race consisting of qualifying rounds and a final race. Ansys awarded the winning team a $100,000 prize and the runner up a $50,000 prize.

Innovating to Win with Ansys

The Ansys Indy Autonomous Challenge Simulation Race is a critical milestone for the teams on the path to winning the $1 million grand prize.

Modeled after the DARPA Grand Challenge, the IAC seeks to increase public awareness of the transformational impact that automation can have on society, inspire the next generation of STEM talent and overcome barriers to autonomous vehicle (AV) commercialization. 

Given the magnitude of the challenge, simulation is critical so that engineers can exponentially innovate and solve the most critical AV design challenges, such as system definition, sensor and hardware development, software development and overall system validation. Using Ansys platforms, the race teams can perform racing simulations across innumerable scenarios, rapidly and cost effectively allowing them to identify and address needed updates to their race controllers in a safe virtual environment. Simply put, simulation is a prerequisite for the teams to be ready in time for the physical race.

See How Ansys is Simulating the Future of Transportation and Mobility in this interactive VR/AR Experience.

Winning overtake move by team PoliMOVE from Hackathon 2

The Journey to the Indy Autonomous Challenge

Teams from 40 different universities around the globe competed in three Hackathons challenging them to use AI technology to control their virtual racecar in a safe simulation development environment. They used Ansys solutions to simulate miles and miles of racecar testing across numerous racetrack scenarios, developing algorithms to transform raw sensor data into their race strategy.

The first big test of their progress came in the Ansys Indy Autonomous Challenge Simulation Race on a virtual model of the IMS racetrack. On June 30th 2021, the teams competed against each other to claim a $100,000 prize for the winner and a $50,000 prize for second place.

The next challenge will be applying the AI algorithms the teams have developed with simulation to the physical autonomous racecars that will compete against each other on the real IMS for a $1,000,000 first prize, $250,000 second prize and a $50,000 third prize!

Engineering What’s Ahead:


The race to autonomous mobility is on.



Find out how pioneers like BMW, Skoda, and FLIR are using simulation to win the race by downloading the e-book.

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