Tesla Won't Be Joining The 2021 Autonomous Car Race In Indianapolis, But It Should At Least Be Invited


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Tesla will not be participating in the Indy Autonomous Challenge, a race between self-driving cars in Indianapolis. The race will be held on October 2021 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Based on the Wall Street Journal, the race will feature autonomous vehicles without drivers present. Most—if not all—of the participants are cars built by universities around the world. It appears that only academic institutions will be allowed to join the race, which is the reason Tesla can not participate.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, and Austria’s Graz University of Technology are just a few of the academic institutions participating in the race. To qualify for the race, vehicles must complete 20 laps in under 25 minutes on a track spanning 2.5 miles. Barron’s calculated that “speeds will have to average 120 miles an hour over the 50 miles” to finish the laps in under 25 minutes.

Tesla’s exclusion from the race or even the event altogether may seem strange, especially considering it offers one of the most advanced autonomous software in the auto industry right now. Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD) package are among the very few near-autonomous software systems actually being used by drivers on the road on a daily basis.

Tesla vehicles have become strongly linked to self-driving cars. The EV automaker also takes pride in making cars that can race on the track and win, as shown on the Plaid Model S on the Nurburgring. As such, it seems only fitting to at least invite Tesla to a race among autonomous vehicles. Even if Tesla can't participate in the race, it could still be involved in it if the organizers are open to inviting one of the world's leaders in autonomous technology.

Tesla has been concentrating on its Autopilot rewrite for the last couple of months and it has already yielded some surprising results. Tesla Autopilot and its Full Self-Driving package received many functionalities and features during the first half of the year.

Earlier this month, Elon Musk stated that Tesla’s Autopilot rewrite was nearly finished and new functions and features could be releasable in two to four months, but would need to be proven safe for the road first, of course. Musk also commented that Tesla was close to Level 5 autonomy during the 2020 World AI Conference (WAIC) in China.

So by the time the Indy Autonomous Challenge does take place, Tesla would definitely probably have a car ready to participate. But even if it isn't allowed to join the race, Tesla's presence at the event would probably make the race a little more intriguing, considering it is one of the world leaders in autonomy.

About the Author

Ma. Claribelle Deveza

Ma. Claribelle Deveza

Longtime writer and news/book editor. Writing about Tesla allows me to contribute something good to the world, while doing something I love.

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