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Autonomous Racing Graz

Are self-driving cars a thing of the far future? Well, not for the TU Graz student team Autonomous Racing Graz. Here, researchers from the Institute of Automation and Control and the Virtual Vehicle Research Center work together with postdoctoral, doctoral, master and bachelor degree students on the vision of autonomous, intelligent driving. Autonomous vehicles are currently revolutionising the vehicle industry, as team leader Daniel Watzenig knows. The aim of the student team is therefore to develop vehicles that have the same or even better driving skills than human drivers.

The team is working on embedded artificial intelligence and its software implementation, which is first tested in simulations and then in autonomous racing cars and research vehicles. The Virtual Vehicle Research Center provides its autonomous research vehicles (Ford Mondeo platforms) for development and validation.

The necessary software components and algorithms of the overall Sense-Plan-Act architecture are systematically developed, improved and optimised for high driving speeds and driving dynamics in racing.

And because dry tests are only half the story, the team has been participating in the international racing series for autonomous driving software, ROBORACE, since July 2019. ROBORACE is the world's first autonomous competition of teams developing self-driving AI: the best software wins. Each team develops the vehicle software for the individual competitions, which is then used to autonomously drive the standardised racing car ROBORACE DevBot 2.0 provided by the race management. Autonomous Racing Graz has already achieved remarkable success, including a 1st and 2nd place in Season Alpha and holds currently the 3rd place in the ongoing Season Beta (2020/2021). The special feature of Season Beta is the integration of the so-called Metaverse — a mixed reality where virtual obstacles appear on the real racetrack. Quite a challenge, especially when, because of COVID, the team is in Graz, whereas the car is driving at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In addition, the team also takes part in the DARPA Indianapolis Autonomous Challenge (IAC) to further expand their spectrum.

We want to take autonomous driving to the limit – high speed, high shear forces, various weather conditions – to increase the trust in and acceptance of this technology, explains Watzenig. "And we want to show that serious research and fun can go together."

Young people wearing green jackets
Logo Autonomous Racing Graz

Profile

Markus Schratter
Markus Schratter, PhD student, technical team leader

Vehicles of all kinds have always interested me, but in recent years, what with increasing developments towards robotics, they have begun to fascinate me all the more. Although robotics alone is an exciting research area in itself, if you look at the entire process, starting from the concept, to integration, simulation and numerous tests on the vehicle, the team spirit-fuelled competition on the racetrack is simply the cherry on top. The sophisticated interplay of countless software and hardware components on the one hand and the step-by-step testing of the functionality on the other is what makes this work so fascinating.

ROBORACE enables the use of robotics under the toughest conditions ‒ and makes my heart jump for joy!

Serious research and lots of fun go hand in hand in the Autonomous Racing Graz team.

Activities

  • (Further) development of the autonomous software stack, development of individual functions (perception, localisation and mapping, vehicle control, data fusion, hardware-in-the-loop tests etc.)
  • Integration and use of the automated driving demonstrators of the Virtual Vehicle Research Center (Autoware software stack)
  • Participation in the Autoware Foundation (ROS-based software stack for autonomous vehicles and robots)
  • Regular participation in the global racing series ROBORACE
  • Participation in the DARPA Indianapolis Autonomous Challenge 2021
  • Realising bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral theses
Cheering people with trophy in front of a car

Success Stories

  • 2nd place ROBORACE Season Beta, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, February 2021

  • 2nd place ROBORACE Season Beta, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, March 2021

  • 1st place ROBORACE Season Alpha, performance and precision challenge, Circuit de Croix-en-Ternois/France, November 2019
  • 2nd place ROBORACE Season Alpha, localization challenge, Zala Zone/Hungary, August 2019

Autonomous Racing Graz at the ROBORACE championships.

Interested?

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