01.06.17 - Toyota Prius

A Different Racing Challenge

In Toyota by Lauren Gailli

It was only a matter of time before we tried to compete to see who could achieve more efficiency in a race format. It makes perfect sense that Toyota is offering the Prius Challenge considering we make everything else on the market. Racing is born out of competing and one-upsmanship, but a contest to see which Prius can achieve the most impressive results regarding fuel efficiency might bring out the skinny jeans wearing, partial beard toting crowd that feels more like it’s a contest of the slow and steady rather than the fast and capable on the track.

Regardless of which crowd it is that comes to the competition, this challenge is on. This will actually be the third such iteration of the event and the Prius Challenge will be held at the Sonoma Raceway by the Toyota Research Institute (TRI). This is being called the Onramp Series and racing team will compete for an interesting title when on the track in the Prius models they bring to the event for the racing during this event. The idea is to achieve the best fuel economy and efficiency rating in the Prius in a specified time range, making it a challenge that seems intriguing.

This challenge allows competitors to use their machine learning strategies and sophisticated data analysis tools to test their theories in the real world. Because the area around the track in Silicon valley is a hotbed of technological and automotive talent hosting the race at Sonoma makes perfect sense to see how the tech crowd in California can perform with a Prius. In the previous races Toyota employees and dealers have competed in these challenges but this is the first time the event will be open to the public, marking a bit of a historic event for Toyota.

One of the contestants for this third iteration will be the winner of the Onramp 2015 Smart Mobility Challenge, Jason Winer. He will bring a device that will assist contestants with the data for track telemetry to help them learn how to optimize their performance during the race. Open Source Robotics Corporation will provide a driving simulator that is designed to allow them to create a strategy for driving on the track by using a virtual program. With these tools the participants will be better prepared to make the right choices when they get out on the track and begin to compete.

This third Onramp event from Toyota will take place on March 3, 2017 and is an invitation-only event for participants. The goal is to create a partnership between Toyota and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs that could serve both well in the future. The award for this event is called the Prius Cup and the winner of this trophy will be the team with the most efficient driving. This may be a unique race to witness with different cars finishing the time in various locations around the track and no clear winner until the data is compiled.