Autonomous car land speed record set at over 305kph

08 May 2022


A new autonomous car land speed record has been set, at an average speed of 192.2mph (309.3kph). The achievement was recorded over a two-way flying 0.62-mile run (1km) on the space shuttle airstrip, located at the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida, US.

Hailing from Politecnico di Milano, Italy, and the University of Alabama, team PoliMOVE operated the autonomous Dallara AV-21 racing car, equipped with an upgraded engine package to boost the four-cylinder turbo power unit. Capable of delivering 30% more horsepower than previous versions of the vehicle, the team set its new record with the car during tests on 27 April at Space Florida’s Launch and Landing Facility.

The project is part of wider Indy Autonomous Challenge, which the PoliMOVE outfit are no strangers to. The team won the world’s first autonomous head-to-head race, held at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in January 2022, collecting a $150,000 (€141,750) in the process.

‘The Autonomous Challenge at CES in January pushed our racecars to their limits and maxed out what was possible at the time,’ said Paul Mitchell, Indy Autonomous Challenge president. ‘Yet here we are just four months later, in another iconic venue, with an upgraded engine package setting yet another world record.’

‘This record run sets a new bar for the top speed capabilities of autonomous competition vehicles,’ added Andrea Pontremoli, CEO and general manager of Dallara. ‘We are thrilled to be a part of this future. Dallara is also very proud to partner with leading software and engineering industries working together with the best universities of the world to contribute towards the development of fully autonomous transportation.’

‘We were running a car operating on algorithms alone, where precision is paramount, and any small prediction error could have created a completely different outcome,’ said Sergio Savaresi, team lead of Politecnico di Milano. ‘This test run was exhilarating, and we are thrilled with the world record, but we are also excited by the fact that this data will be made available to all, and the industry will benefit from our work and learnings.’

What is the Indy Autonomous challenge?

With over 40 universities taking part, the Indy Autonomous Challenge is a high speed and hi-tech crucible for testing the limits of autonomous driving.

Based in Indiana, US, it aims to address real world issues by advancing technology that will assist and compliment the commercialisation of fully autonomous vehicles and deployments of advanced driver-assistance systems.

The inaugural Indy Autonomous Challenge was held at the storied Indianapolis Motor Speedway in October 2021 and featured 21 universities from nine countries, with nine teams all battling for a $1 million reward, which was won by TUM Autonomous Motorsport from Technische Universität München, Germany. At this event, cars raced one after the other, with the winner setting the fastest time from their run.

In January of this year, the Indy Autonomous challenge took place alongside CES 2022, at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. For the first time, the autonomous cars were able to race side-by-side, with two teams taking to the track in a series of knockout heats.