until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Single Seater/Open Wheel

Live video: Watch A2RL's inaugural race

4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

A2RL - the Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League, to give it its full name - begins in Abu Dhabi from 4pm UK time today - watch it live below:

What is A2RL?

Motorsport and technological advancement are inextricably linked. Always have been, always will be.

It was inevitable, then, that with autonomy evolving at a remarkable pace that motorsport would end up becoming a testbed for systems that could change the way we travel.

Step forward A2RL.

A2RL - the Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League, to give it its full name - is, as the name suggests, a groundbreaking autonomous racing series that’s new for 2024.

The inaugural A2RL event, which takes place at Formula 1's Yas Marina Abu Dhabi Grand Prix venue on April 27, will bring eight teams together in the quest for victory in this most pioneering of races.

Each will compete with its own autonomous, modified version of the Dallara-developed Super Formula SF23 car with a prize fund of $2.25million on the line.

What does it involve?

A2RL, which is planned as an annual fixture, will feature teams from the UAE, China, Singapore, Germany, Hungary, Italy and the USA.

Testing of the autonomous SF23 - which is the fastest single-seater outside of F1 - has already been conducted as part of a comprehensive build-up period for teams to refine their understanding of the car, ahead of a two-week training schedule at Yas Marina that precedes the April 27 race.

The base car that each team has now been handed will be identical but teams will have the freedom to 'code' their cars - which feature an autonomous ‘stack’ in place of a driver - as they see fit in preparation for the main event.

Which teams are competing in A2RL?

-Fly Eagle (UAE/China)
-Code 19 Racing (USA)
-Constructor University (Germany)
-Kinetiz (UAE/Singapore)
-HUMDA Lab (Hungary)
-Polimove Autonomous Racing Team (Italy)
-Unimore (Italy)
-Technical University of Munich (Germany)

How will the format work?

Think experimental! While the precise race programme is still yet to be shared, part of the challenge is to give the competing teams a variety of race formats to successfully complete.

This will comprise full-distance and sprint-style races, and will be informed by what is achieved during the two-week training period.

But race day will progress in keeping with an ethos of pushing the boundaries in the pursuit of scientific and technological progress - in essence, the format will take teams to their limits.

As Tom McCarthy - executive director of ASPIRE the programme management and business development arm of ATRC (Advanced Technology Research Council) that’s behind the concept - puts it: "What you will see throughout the day is racing at levels that have been achieved to date, and then some shorter exciting races to push speed with multiple cars on the track, and then pushing to the limits of science and pushing beyond that."

Who’s behind it and what’s the aim?

The A2RL concept comes from the ASPIRE group, the programme development arm of the UAE capital's Advanced Technology Research Council.

It promises to bring together "the exciting impact of AI on our lives and its incredible potential for autonomy" by demonstrating the "remarkable pace" autonomy is developing at - something that the series will make instantly obvious.

This is the first step in what ASPIRE plans will later also extend to the realm of autonomous drones and dune buggies.

It has also set out four wider goals it hopes to achieve:
- Pioneering the future of transport: that is, "stress-testing" on the track to improve autonomous vehicles' safety on roads
- Inspiring the next generation of STEM talent: the A2RL wants its teams to be "embracing curiosity, reimagining possibilities, reinventing ideas, and re-engineering a brighter tomorrow"
- Accelerating Abu Dhabi's knowledge economy: A2RL wants to serve as a "dynamic R&D hub" for Abu Dhabi by offering "an immersive experience into the world of AI"
- Creating an impact beyond the track: it's hoped that the research and development from this process can be applied far beyond the autonomy sector

How to watch A2RL

The race will be broadcast live on The Race’s YouTube channel.

Follow A2RL’s social channels for the latest news as well further broadcast and event timings information.

The live stream kicks off at 4pm BST with the Opening Ceremony, before race one - an 'AI vs Human' race involving ex-Formula 1 driver Daniil Kvyat - takes place at 4.15pm.

That's the appetiser for the full A2RL final, which involves the best teams from the A2RL qualifier and takes place at 5pm BST, with the podium ceremony following at 5.45pm.

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