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Maui driverless car represents US in international competition Saturday

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A driverless motor vehicle, initially developed at the University of Hawaii-Maui, is competiting internationally with 18 universities in a 190-mile competition Saturday in Las Vegas.

A University of Hawaiʻi team that had its beginnings at the Maui College campus is entering the field of international driverless vehicles in a race car competition designed to reach speeds of 190 miles an hour.

Competitors come from six countries representing 18 universities. The UH AI Racing Tech team is one of nine entries at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023.

The event will begin with time trials and elimination rounds at 8 a.m. HST. Semifinal and final rounds will be broadcast live from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Hawaiʻi on the Indy Autonomous Challenge website.


UH AI Racing Tech enters the event as the top ranked United States team fresh off of its second place finish at the Indy Autonomous Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway on Nov. 11, 2022.

Among six teams in the competition, UH AI Racing Tech lost to PoliMOVE out of Italy, which also won last year’s Autonomous Challenge @ CES. Teams competed at speeds topping 140 mph despite unseasonably cold and wet weather conditions with track temperatures dropping to near freezing. 

UH AI Racing Tech Team Principal Gary Passon is looking forward to better conditions in Las Vegas and an opportunity to improve.


“The team has established itself as a serious competitor in this competition,” Passon said in a University press release. “We had a few things break our way in the last race. But, races are races and so if you’re not in it, you can’t win it. That gave us a lot of confidence coming into the Las Vegas event. We’re looking forward to remaining a contender in this event and we made some great progress between the two competitions.”

UH AI Racing Tech was launched out of a spring 2020 UH Maui College autonomous vehicle technology class. It started small from scaled vehicles, to go-kart-sized and now to full-sized racing cars.

Since its inception, UH AI Racing Tech has added students and faculty from UH Mānoa’s College of Engineering, UC San Diego, Carnegie Mellon University and UC Berkeley. The collaboration is working to enrich the skills and resources of the schools, as well as to demonstrate the good will the various campuses have for each other.


“This has been one of the most informative projects of my grad school career,” said C.K. Wolfe, a UC Berkeley graduate student. “The opportunity to be on the cutting edge of technology and get a chance to work hands-on with these systems that many people never see in their entire professional lives.”

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