The fastest self-driving car speed has been broken by a futuristic racing machine dubbed the most advanced autonomous racecar ever. Prior to setting the record, the previous record-holder for the fastest autonomous vehicle belonged to Daniel Simon, who worked on various cars for films like “Tron: Legacy,” as well as his “Robocar” creation. Simon’s Robocar held the Guinness World Record for the fastest self-driving car after reaching a top speed of 175 mph at the Elvington Track in the U.K. in March 2019.
However, three years later, Politecnico di Milano University’s PoliMOVE team was able to tune a car that reached the breakneck speed of 192 mph all on its own, dethroning the Robocar in the process, according to its press release. Aside from this amazing feat, PoliMOVE’s autonomous racecar also won first place at the Indy Autonomous Challenge in Las Vegas. Its self-driving car technology operated completely independent of any professional driver for guidance and relied solely on algorithms and analyzing heaps of data. For those wondering what type of vehicle it is, well, let’s just say it’s not exactly the silent type that most would associate with self-driving cars.
What is the fastest self-driving car’s specs?
All IAC cars utilize the same Dallara AV-21 model, including PoliMOVE’s record-breaking racecar. These racing machines aren’t electric; rather, they are powered by a 2.0 turbo-charged straight-four engine that produces 388 brake horsepower (via Autoweek). Unlike conventional racecars, these vehicles swap the driver’s seat and steering wheel with an array of computational instruments. This includes three lidars that measure its surrounding range, three radars that calculate the speed and placement of other cars, and four cameras for full 360-degree imaging, as shown in IAC’s YouTube video demonstration.
In addition, the vehicle is also equipped with four GPS antennas capable of pinpointing its exact location, as well as sensors that track the vehicle’s current condition in real time. Since the Dallara AV-21 can reach speeds of more than 170 mph, IAC explained that its specialized equipment is rugged enough to withstand the extreme temperatures and impact that high-speed racing demands. While every IAC competitor uses the same racing hardware, it was still up to PoliMOVE to tweak the AV-21 in ways that bring out the most power from it using their own software coding.
Being the fastest autonomous car is only the beginning
Aside from breaking the fastest self-driving vehicle world record, PoliMOVE is also enthusiastic about the implications their victory brings to the autonomous cars industry as a whole. Professor Sergio Savaresi, the one in charge of leading team PoliMOVE, revealed that their data will be made widely available in order to help the industry learn from the discoveries, as per the press release. After all, the Dallara AV-21 just might be the foundation of future autonomous vehicles given its ability to drive at high speeds in total darkness all by itself, as showcased by IAC’s YouTube demo. This was made possible due to its driving instrumentation not having to rely on visual cues or any human intervention to function efficiently, allowing it to drive safely even in low lighting conditions.
That said, coming up with the perfect software that compliments the AV-21’s bleeding-edge hardware just might be the key that unlocks the full potential of self-driving cars. While accidents can still happen in autonomous racing, the technology that safeguards these self-driving cars from dangerous crashes is already catching up. An example of this can even be seen in IAC racing’s YouTube highlights, which shows an AV-21 preventing itself from completely spinning out of control after over-steering from a turn. As for PoliMOVE’s custom-tuned AV-21, the team will be looking to push it to its limits once again, but this time, on a full race track instead of a simple straight line. Only time will tell if this not only leads to more record-breaking feats, but breakthroughs in self-driving tech as well.