- Let's welcome Paul Mitchell with Energy Systems Network and Doug Boles with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway live from the speedway. Hey, guys, what's going on?

- We've been having fun following your show. This is fantastic, the way you guys have taken the biggest show of the year and made sure that people still get to enjoy it through the digital platforms. So congrats to you all.

- Oh, thank you.

- Oh, thanks.

- You guys are on the big, big show, and you're also on the big screen. Like I can see, kind of like, your nostrils so I'm just letting you know that. OK, now this week at CES you guys unveiled the official race car of the Indy Autonomous Challenge. This is an SDV for the world's first high speed head-to-head, self-driving race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. OK, that sounds wild. I guess we'll start with Doug and then we'll go to Paul. Can you guys tell us about the challenge and the car? My goodness.

- Well, I'm pretty excited about it. So I'm the President of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it's a racetrack where the Indy 500 takes place. It was built in 1909 and it was built for this exact reason. It was built to test new technologies. And then in 1909, the new technology was the automobile. So we had an opportunity to partner with ESN and Paul Mitchell and his group to come up with this amazing prize competition and Indy Autonomous Challenge in October. This is just part of what the Indianapolis 500 is about, testing that new technology, edge-case technology but doing it with race cars at the world's most famous racetrack.

- Amazing, and you guys hosted a number of race simulation workshops to drive interest and obviously spur this amazing innovation for this program. What are some of the innovations and ideas that this event has unleashed?

- Right, so it's been a two-year competition and we've got 30-plus universities from around the world, something like 12 countries, 14 U.S states, four continents participating. So there's a ton of innovation, a ton of learning that's taking place. You may just mention that during the first year it's mostly simulation. So we have a great simulation partner in ANSYS, as well as Microsoft who have allowed our teams, even during the pandemic, to upload their algorithms and essentially compete in a virtual racing environment that mimics what they'll actually experience at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But really what we expect to come out of this is to push the state-of-the-art of technology when it comes to high-speed automation. A lot of the autonomous vehicle technology that you see today is operating at low speeds and that's important. And there's challenges associated with that. But what we're doing is pushing automation to the absolute limit. So you're talking about vehicles going 180, even 200 miles an hour. And so clearly the learnings from that are going to help going forward.

- Wow, that is crazy. We know that the Indy Autonomous Challenge here, though it kind of builds on a project that started with DARPA. DARPA Grand Challenge. This is a U.S. government-funded program to really advance R&D and self-driving technology. I guess we'll start with Doug here. How did this project actually evolve to where it is now?

- Well, we were trying to figure out how we stay true to the DNA of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which was testing new technologies. And we've done a whole bunch from the very beginning of our sport in 1911. The first Indy 500 had the first rear view mirror ever used in competition, through a lot of tire technologies. And there's a whole bunch of other little pieces of technology that are in our cars today that started at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But as we know, the world is changing so fast we thought, what's the next place where we can really make a jump. DARPA was a great example for us. And we wanted to mimic that. And we reached out to Paul, and Paul said I've got a great idea. And that's where we've ended up with the Indy Autonomous Challenge.

- And in your opinion, what kind of role do you think the government should have when it comes to this sort of innovation and driving it forward?

- Government's got an important central role, particularly in providing the regulations and the rules of the road, if you will, to ensure that autonomous vehicles, as the technology is ready, that they can be deployed. That people can safely utilize them and benefit from them. We actually organized this race as a non-profit research activity. It's not organized by the U.S. government, but the U.S. government is there supporting us. One of the things that it has led to is a lot of international interest. So, as I mentioned earlier, we have 12 different countries who are participating through their elite research universities. So we're very excited about that aspect of it, the global nature of it, which really built on the DARPA Grand Challenge.

- All right, Doug, I've got this question for you. Not that I don't love you, Paul, OK? But this one's going to Doug. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has really been this hub of innovation since what I guess, the earliest 20th century. So, how does the Indy Autonomous Challenge really advance that connection between tech innovation and then motor sports?

- Well, I think what it really does we're going to take the basic Indy car built by Dallara and we're going to take the driver out of it. And we're going to say, OK, these students that Paul's talked about, go figure out how to make this car do what Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Dario Franchitti, all these great people in our past that have run the Indianapolis 500 on it. Alexander Rossi, who still runs it today, go make it do what these drivers do. And the technology I think we learn out of it isn't going to replace the driver but I think it's going to help the driver in racing, it's certainly going to help drivers on the highway.

- Yeah, and what role, this is actually brings us to an interesting question. Smart cities are like the new talk of the town. What role do you think that self-driving cars will play? Not just in the future of transportation but like also the logistics when it comes to things like smart cities.

- Yeah, so-

- Go ahead Paul, yep.

- A lot of the focus on automation has been on robo taxis, right? Helping people get around from point A to point B particularly in an urban setting. But there's a ton of automation that can advance the efficiencies of logistics over-the-road trucking, which is important particularly at high speeds. So I think automation will improve safety, it will improve efficiency, it'll help people who otherwise have mobility challenges. There's a whole bunch of good that can come from it. And our goal with this challenge is to get us there more quickly, right? Is to realize that autonomous future sooner rather than later.

- So, 180 mile per hour, self-driving taxi probably not happening anytime soon at a smart city, right guys? Just, probably? OK, I just wanted to make sure about that. I know with everything going on also though, has that vision of self-driving and things of this nature changed because of the pandemic? How has this kind of changed what you guys are doing?

- I don't think it's changed it. I mean, I think the pandemic in terms of our challenge has actually pushed our teams to figure out how to collaborate and work together virtually. Our partners at Microsoft and ANSYS have done a great job enabling that. I think if anything, automated vehicles in a post-pandemic world will be more important, right? The ability to move things like vaccines, move other medical equipment and devices without human interaction or humans in the loop. That's a huge benefit of automation.

- Yeah, well, thank you so much for amazing insight, Paul and Doug. It was great meeting you too. Very cool that you guys are actually right now on the track, which is awesome. You guys are amazing.

- It's a great place to be. If we can't be with you, we're happy to be here--

- Aaw, you're so sweet.

- Happy birthday by the way.

- Oh my gosh!

- They're watching.

- Thank you.

- OK, they're absolutely watching, awesome!

- They're totally watching.

- Thanks, Paul. Thanks, Doug, appreciate it guys.

- Make sure you come to Indiana, October 23.

- Yes!

- Oh, is that an invite? Because I want to be there.

- Official invite confirmed. All right, let's make it happen.

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