First autonomous car track day set for this May

By the end of the year, we’ll have the first racing tournament dedicated to autonomous cars, and we will also have the first track day.

Joshua Schachter, the creator of Delicious and ex-Googler, has organized the track day for startups and big brands to test their cars. It will take place on May 28-29 at Thunderhill Raceway in California.

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All sorts of autonomous vehicles can run on the track, in the words of Schachter, “if you squint at it, and it’s automotive, come try it on the track.” That sounds more like an engineering field day than a chance to see fast cars hitting peak speeds, and indeed Schachter said he would be surprised if any autonomous car completed a lap during the two days.

For startups or enthusiasts, this is a great place to test moving sensors or automated vehicles in a controlled environment. It gives cars a precise route to follow and hundreds of miles to test.

Track slots are filling up

Already, Schachter has confirmed AutonomouStuff, Hyperdrive, and Varden Labs will be attending the event. 11 other companies have signed up for the event, including Renovo, which introduced a half-a-million dollar autonomous car at CES 2015 and has developed an autonomous Delorean that can self-drift.

Schachter said that unlike Roborace, the autonomous race that will support Formula E in the 2016-2017 season, he doesn’t want an event where you build from the bottom up. Instead, he wants developers to bring their projects and test them in a convenient environment and potentially make connections with others in the industry.

While General Motors, Audi, and Google might not make the trip, we suspect a few more startups will venture out to Willow, California to test whatever device or vehicle they’ve been testing.

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