A2RL 2024

An eclectic collection of creatives and technical suppliers come together to deliver the debut event of the world’s leading extreme autonomous racing series at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit.

The UAE has made no secret of its desire to push the envelope with its approach to emerging technology, and the country further bolstered its credentials in the field recently with an all-new extreme racing series that saw eight AI-powered cars race around Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit, roared on by a crowd of more than 10,000 in person and 600,000 online. Conceived by ASPIRE – part of the UAE’s Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC) – and brought together by the tireless efforts of engineers, scientists, and programmers, the inaugural Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League (A2RL) saw teams from educational and technological institutions from around the world compete to develop the fastest, most capable racing AI for a share of a $2.25 million prize.

Heading up the event on behalf of ASPIRE was Unique 42’s Stefan Cebula, who had a broad remit for the project. “I had an oversight on event technical design, production direction, ITC overlay, broadcast, and VR,” Cebula told TPiMEA during our chat a few weeks after the event. “I’ve worked on Olympic Games and World Cups, and I don’t think I’ve ever worked as hard as I worked on this. A2RL has been all-consuming, yet extremely rewarding.”

With some experience in robotics competitions during his time at Protec and having worked with ASPIRE since October 2021, most notably on the Mohammed bin Zayed International Robotics Challenge, Cebula played an active role in A2RL right from its inception at the end of 2022. “The team started extremely small and, as we got closer to the event, it gathered pace and grew quickly, bringing in specialists in several disciplines including motorsports.”

Photos: A2RL