Months of hard work ended with a disappointing crash for a Waterloo Engineering alumnus and an engineering master's student during a historic autonomous vehicle race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) on Saturday afternoon.
A million-dollar, self-driving racecar developed by Brian Mao and Ben Zhang with teammates from three U.S. universities hadn’t completed its warmup lap when a GPS failure led to an unscheduled left turn into an infield wall at the famed home of the Indianapolis 500.
But as they assessed the damage, analyzed what went wrong and watched the winning German team take the US $1-million top prize in the first Indy Autonomous Challenge with an average speed of almost 136 miles per hour (mph), they had no regrets.
“Of course there are some tears, some sadness, but we still feel good that we had the courage to try pushing the limits of what we could do,” said Mao (BASc ’20, mechanical engineering).
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