24 Hours of LeMons now welcomes driverless entries

In an effort to stay on the bleeding edge of old crap-bucket technology, the 24 Hours of LeMons has now created a prize specifically for autonomous vehicles. The X Ceedingly Bad Idea Prize will award one million shiny new nickels to the first team that manages to pilot an autonomous vehicle to a win. We assume that carries a caveat of not killing anyone in the process. As always, the vehicle itself can't cost more than $500, though the associated technological wizardry required to keep the driverless machine on the track doesn't count toward that grand total.

Madness? Probably, but we would feel more comfortable sharing the course with a computer than some of the tactically inept drivers we've seen bashing around the track in our time. The next 24 Hours of LeMons race kicks off at New Jersey Motorsports Park on April 14-15, but you need to get your application in by February 4. Get cracking, people. In the meantime, hit the jump to check out the press release.
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"X Ceedingly Bad Idea Prize" Announced for Autonomous LeMons Cars

Emeryville CA–In a bid to eliminate the typical team's weakest link, 24 Hours of LeMons, Inexplicably Presented by Car and Driver will begin taking driverlessautonomous vehicles immediately. Defined as computer-controlled, self-piloting mobile platforms, "autonomous vehicles" (AV) are not to be confused with "terrible hoopties whose idiot drivers bail out" (THWIDBO), of which the series has plenty already.

To accelerate the shift from human drivers to the better-smelling silicon variant, LeMons has also instituted the X Ceedingly Bad Idea Prize, an award of one million nickels to the race's first AV winner. Before being allowed to compete, AVs must demonstrate safety and on-track performance on par with those of regular LeMons teams, including the ability to ignore yellow flags; stop dead in mid-corner for no reason; never find the racing line; and argue irrationally when called in for penalties.

While AV equipment is exempt from the series' $500 price cap, both Google and Carnegie-Mellon quickly announced they'd go after the Prize using new systems based on such LeMons-appropriate technologies as wooden legs, Atari Pong consoles, GM Cross-Fire Injection, and string. Humans wearing C3PO costumes are ineligible.

Next AV Racing Opportunities

New Jersey: New Jersey Motorsports Park, 14-15 April (apply by Feb 4th)

Michigan: Gingerman Raceway, 21-22 April (apply by Feb 11th)

New Hampshire: New Hampshire Motor Speedway, 5-6 May (apply by Feb 25th)

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