Cisco fuels innovation and critical connectivity at the Indy Autonomous Challenge

Sept. 21, 2021 – Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) announced its premier sponsorship of the Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC), the first autonomous racecar competition at the world-renowned Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) with teams from 21 universities competing for $1.5M in prizes. Cisco is providing the critical wireless connectivity enabling the racecars to safely participate in the competition on October 23, 2021 at IMS, which has long been a proving ground and catalyst for automotive innovation.

The IAC has brought together institutions of higher education and technology partners to empower the next generation of engineers and raise awareness of the impact that automation can have to improve vehicle safety and performance. The challenge requires university students to develop innovative solutions which not only contribute to accelerating autonomous vehicle development, but also help solve all types of edge case scenarios in real-world autonomous operations.

All IAC teams will use a Dallara AV-21 designed for autonomous racing with hardware and controls provided by IAC industry sponsors, re-engineered and assembled by Clemson University (CU-ICAR) Deep Orange 12 students to enable automation. This allows the racecar to accommodate each team’s driverless algorithms, which will complete all actions normally performed by a human driver. The teams are responsible for the autonomous driving software, which makes all driving decisions on board by collecting information from cameras, GPS inputs and sensors, including Luminar’s long-range LiDARs, which are the key sensors that enable autonomy by providing comprehensive and reliable data. Luminar’s LiDARs have high resolution, wide horizontal field of view, and dynamic scanning capabilities that allows the race cars to recognize other cars or debris both near and far, adding the necessary redundancy for long-range detections.

Cisco Technologies Powering the IAC

Cisco’s history of delivering reliable connectivity at high speeds made it a natural fit to provide the car-to-trackside connectivity. Cisco powers the connectivity to and from the vehicles, which includes race control commands, telemetry data offload, and GPS timing alignment. This is possible using Cisco’s industrial networking technology:

  • Cisco Ultra-Reliable Wireless Backhaul combines the reliability and speed of fiber connectivity with the flexibility of wireless communications. It provides private mobile connectivity for mission critical applications. Like 5G, it delivers stable, ultra-low latency broadband wireless communications.
  • Cisco Catalyst Industrial Switches offer up to 40 Gigabit throughput in the vehicle to connect various Lidar, cameras, and other sensors to the drive PC; providing the necessary bandwidth and network speed to process information in these environments.

Autonomous Innovations Improve Industries Beyond Racing

The same Cisco technologies connecting the IAC are used to connect autonomous operations in automotive and other industries like industrial automation/manufacturing, warehouses, railways, mass transit, mining, and ports.

Use cases like connected robots on a factory floor and autonomous haul trucks in mines require data instantly and in mass, demanding a new type of networking that can support that data plus deliver the speed required for analysis. This new class of industrial networking must provide the ability to handle more network bandwidth, offer zero latency data and support edge compute.

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Indy Autonomous Challenge Powered by Cisco

“The need for greater efficiencies and business resiliency is accelerating autonomous operations across industries, and Cisco is a key partner in providing the technologies needed to improve autonomous operations at scale. The Indy Autonomous Challenge is an incredible opportunity for university students to further the fundamental research needed to make innovations like self- driving cars a reality, and we’re proud to see the progress they’ve already made.”

– Bill Kohut, SVP of US Commercial Sales, Cisco

“The Indy Autonomous Challenge gives students a playground to leverage Cisco technology to test the future possibilities with driverless cars.”

– Renee Patton, Global Director of Education & Healthcare, Cisco

Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS)

“As the epicenter of motorsports innovation for more than a century, IMS looks forward to hosting the Indy Autonomous Challenge. We’re pleased Cisco has offered its incredible technical resources and expertise to the IAC and its teams. We know Cisco’s support will make this event even more impactful.”

– Doug Boles, President of Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Energy Systems Network

“We are delighted to have Cisco as our presenting sponsor of this inaugural Indy Autonomous Challenge. Our mission was to find the most capable industry leaders that could empower our IAC teams with advanced technology to achieve safe and efficient autonomous operations — and that was Cisco and the Cisco Wireless Backhaul. The goal of the Indy Autonomous Challenge is to ignite innovation across numerous industries globally, beyond the automotive sector, and nobody is better equipped than Cisco to provide their networking leadership to ensure safe and reliable connectivity.”

– Paul Mitchell, President and CEO, Energy Systems Network, and co-organizer of the IAC

Clemson University

“We evaluated several technologies and none offered the performance we needed to make Clemson’s autonomous racecar prototype a success. We chose Cisco’s Ultra-Reliable
Wireless Backhaul for its ultra-low latency, make-before-break seamless hand off, and proven performance in high-speed moving environments. While the vehicle can drive itself, we need Cisco’s solution to ensure safety protocols are in place and that the vehicle can be stopped in an emergency.”

– Robert Prucka, Deep Orange 12 faculty lead and Kulwicki Endowed Professor in Motorsports Engineering

Prism Systems, Inc.

“Prism has been working with Cisco for years, deploying ultra-reliable wireless backhaul
across various industries from autonomous vehicles to rail to amusement parks rides. We know this technology works because we have implemented it in some extraordinarily challenging applications. It was a no-brainer for Prism to engage when presented with the opportunity to support the Indy Challenge to further autonomous development. Together, Prism and Cisco have the right technology and skillsets needed to deliver the connectivity required in high-speed autonomous racing.”

– Keith Jones, President, Prism Systems, Inc.


“The Indy Autonomous Challenge is a great example of how an ecosystem of industry leaders like Cisco and Luminar can come together to help enable autonomy in the most demanding driving environments. Enabling safe autonomy at high-speeds means each race car can see reliably at long-range and has the support of Cisco’s high bandwidth, low-latency network to make the proper split-second decisions.”

– Aaron Jefferson, Vice President of Product, Luminar

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