Self-driving Motorsport Series A2RL 2023

Self-driving on the grid in Abu Dhabi in April 2024

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2024 Start For New Self-driving Race Series

A highlight of this week’s Gitex tech conference in Dubai was the unveiling of the 185mph Dallara Super Formula SF23 self-driving car race, to be used in the new Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League (A2RL).

10 rival teams with cars from the legendary Italian manufacturer will take to the grid for the first time on 28 April at the Yas Marina Circuit, competing for a tasty £1.85m prize pot.

The eye-catching launch video promised: “To push the boundaries of what is possible. To compete on speed, on reaction, on agility. Not just to master the perfect lap, but to redefine it.”

A2RL self-driving race series launch video, Oct 2023

A2RL says it has brought together teams of scientists, coders and developers from around the world with the aim of reshaping the future of mobility through extreme sports – to stress-test autonomous vehicles on the racetrack for safety on our roads.

Self-driving racing

As Tom McCarthy, Executive Director of Aspire, the organisation behind the project, explains in the video interview below: “We believe that if consumers gain confidence then we will see cutting-edge research, such as that being undertaken here in Abu Dhabi, taking its place in production cars sooner rather than later.”

A2RL’s Tom McCarthy at Gitex 2023

This isn’t the first attempt to get a self-driving race series off the ground. In May last year, we reported on the demise of Roborace, established way back in 2015.

Around the same time, we reported on AB Dynamics’ 130mph self-driving crash test at the Talladega Superspeedway and Indy Autonomous Challenge winner PoliMOVE setting a new world speed record for a self-driving vehicle, 192.2mph at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

As Sir Stirling Moss told me many years ago [how’s that for a name drop?!], autosport has always played a vital role in developing new technologies.

A2RL plan to go off-road too, with self-driving dune buggy and drone races, all intended to advance autonomy. We at Cars of the Future will definitely be watching.

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Author: Neil Kennett

Neil is MD of Featurebank Ltd. He launched in 2019.