Autonomous driving technology returns to the California circuit


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Autonomous driving technology returns to the California circuit

Some of the most notable innovations in the automotive industry have come from motor racing. Joshua Schachter hopes the same will be true of autonomous driving technology someday.

Schachter is the founder of Self Racing Cars, an annual event that allows participants to test their autonomous driving skills at racing speeds.

After a pandemic-related hiatus, Self Racing Cars returns to Thunderhill Raceway in Willows, Calif., Next month. The two-day event will be held from October 16 to 17 and once again combines racing and autonomy.

The teams compete for the best lap time on the closed course. But the event is not limited to the lap times. It’s more of a chance for anyone, from big companies like Nvidia to small startups, to test their technologies in a closed setting and bring together a community of DIY enthusiasts from all over.

It helps developers who build their own systems to collect data from real, but controlled scenarios.

“We invite anyone with autonomous vehicles or autonomous technology to demonstrate and test on a race track where safety is a priority, but DOT regulations are not relevant,” Schachter said.

Among the companies expected to participate this year are Nvidia, Point One Navigation, and delivery tech startup Boltu Robotics. Participants can test AVs, electric vehicles, simulated systems, sensors, software and algorithms, and teleoperation. Schachter said individuals and enthusiasts are “especially” welcome, and the event often features teams testing self-powered go-karts.

This year, he expects participants to test everything from full-size cars to electric three-wheelers and RC cars. Companies or interested persons can find more information on selfracingcars.com.

– Pete Bigelow

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