UAE: Driverless cars to race at 300kmph at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina for prize pool of $2.25 million

Eight teams will compete in this groundbreaking event and more than 10,000 spectators are expected to witness the inaugural edition

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A Staff Reporter

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Photos: Supplied
Photos: Supplied

Published: Tue 23 Apr 2024, 8:08 PM

Last updated: Tue 23 Apr 2024, 11:21 PM

Making history, four autonomous cars are set to race simultaneously at the Yas Marina Circuit on Saturday.

Eight teams will compete in this groundbreaking event for a prize pool of $2.25 million during the Aspire Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League (A2RL).


More than 10,000 spectators are expected to witness the inaugural edition of the competition, which marks a significant milestone in motorsport history and is billed as the largest league of its kind globally.

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Eight teams will compete: Code19 Racing from the US, Constructor University based in Germany and Switzerland, Fly Eagle representing Beijing Institute of Technology from China and Khalifa University, HUMDA Lab – a member of the Szechenyi Istvan University Group from Hungary), KINETIZ – a collaboration between Singapore Nanyang Technological University and Kintsugi based in the UAE, PoliMOVE representing Politecnico di Milano from Italy, UNIMORE from Italy – University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, and Technical University of Munich – TUM from Germany.

The participating teams of coders and engineers will each have exclusive access to identical Dallara Super Formula SF23 cars, made possible through a partnership with Japan Race Promotions. These cars will be autonomised with autonomous racing stacks developed and integrated by the Technology Innovation Institute (TII). The sole variable lies in how each team utilises its coding skills, AI algorithms, and machine learning software development expertise to teach its cars how to drive. Currently recognised as the fastest open-wheel race car in the world after Formula One, these cars can reach speeds of up to 300kmph.

AI versus human

For the first time, the race format is poised to feature four autonomous cars driving on the racetrack simultaneously. In a series of pre-qualifying races, the finale will showcase the top performers from the lap test and speed test, advancing to a final overtaking challenge to determine the ultimate winner. Additionally, an AI vs human car race will unfold, with the TII pitting its autonomous car against former F1 driver Daniil Kvyat. TII will aim to get as close as possible to the human lap time and will also demonstrate the autonomous car’s ability to drive without GPS assistance.

“In pushing the boundaries of technology under extreme conditions, we uncover new frontiers in science. This reimagined racing paradigm harnesses the pinnacle of coding skills, AI algorithms, and software development prowess — the very skill sets of the future. By leveraging these capabilities, we pave a path at the forefront of research and development, propelling Abu Dhabi to become a pivotal global hub for innovation,” Faisal Al Bannai, secretary general of the Advanced Technology Research Council – Aspire’s parent entity, and adviser to the UAE President on strategic research and advanced technology affairs, said.

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, and Group MD and CEO of ADNOC, said: “A2RL epitomises our dedication to integrating cutting-edge technology including AI, driving competitiveness and economic growth across sectors. For decades, ADNOC has invested in the latest technology and innovation – from the control room to the board room - to deliver the modern energy that powers our lives.”

An exclusive fan zone will offer an elevated experience for families, motorsport fans, and tech enthusiasts. With tailored activities, guests can immerse themselves in cutting-edge tech and gaming, including a captivating VR zone and the AI museum – Raceum.

Organiser of A2RL, Aspire CEO, Stephane Timpano, noted: “A2RL is more than just a race — it's a platform for testing and optimising autonomous vehicle technologies, enhancing safety and reliability on public roads. With the support of local and international partners, we're bringing the mobility future - closer.”

Young students from the A2RL STEM Competition will showcase their coding skills on 1:8 scale autonomous racing cars, with 18 schools competing. The night concludes with activities including a podium ceremony for the winners, fireworks, a drone show, and an after-show concert with DJ Andre Soueid. The race day will also be accessible through various live streaming channels, including A2RL’s official YouTube and Twitch channels, motorsport.tv and the A2RL app.

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