First Autonomous Vehicle Track Day

autoI have to wonder if people will get excited about autonomous vehicle racing. Will it be the car racing of the future? I am sure it will be a great test of the technology and the crashes will not involve humans which is a good thing. From the press release:

Each week researchers and car manufacturers bring us closer and closer to the reality that is autonomous vehicles. Joshua Schachter, owner and founder of, wanted to help give the technology a push. So Joshua organized the world’s first Autonomous Vehicle Track Day. The event, which took place at the end of May at the Thunderhill Raceway, was opened to anyone who wanted to test an autonomous systems or other driving innovation.

Several companies brought their vehicles to the track to test their systems, each sporting a variety of sensors and programming platforms as part of their autonomous systems. The most prominent sensor on the track, however, was Velodyne’s VLP-16 LiDAR Puck.

John Eggert, Senior Sales & Marketing Manager for Velodyne, explained that Velodyne’s LiDAR technology enables autonomous vehicles to “use algorithms to detect object and avoid collisions with other traffic participants like cars, bicycles, pedestrians, and so on.  Thanks to this multi-channel approach, the environment can be perceived in real-time rather than one by one, with a single laser.”

Two of the vehicles present,’s Acura and the Lincoln MKZ from AutonomouStuff, boasted fully autonomous systems. previewed a cost-effective aftermarket system, scheduled for release later this year. The vehicle included a Velodyne HDL-32E sensor mounted on the roof and a high-end GPS/IMU combination in the trunk. The vehicle also included a platform from Wheego, a startup based in Sonoma, Calif.

Hopefully, more such Autonomous Track Days will be hosted in the future, giving car builders a chance to further test and improve their technology. “This first event was wide open to teams with any relevant mobility technologies,” Schachter said.  “Sensor technology companies like Velodyne recorded the data and posted it publicly so that others can start to understand it.  In time, we will add competition, starting with time trials, and then narrow the focus.  In order to make it easier for people to build autonomous vehicles for this event in the future, we will be publishing datasets captured from various sensors on the cars and near the track at”

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