1000-MAD”: ambitious experimentation project for self-driving vehicles

Self-driving car of Politecnico di Milano at 1000 Miglia

For the first time, the 1000 Miglia 2023 event, an event that embodies the history of world motoring, will be kicked off by an autonomous car, a symbol of the future.

Called “1000-MAD” (1000 Miglia Autonomous Drive), the Politecnico di Milano project represents the first experimentation in the world of autonomous vehicles on public roads, with an extension path of more than 1500 km and a time window of over 12 months.

1000-MAD is an initiative that aims to increase the technical skills of Italian industry, to contribute to the development of sustainable mobility and to create awareness of this technology in the public.

The Politecnico project sees the support and collaboration of 1000 Miglia S.r.l., the support and patronage of MOST – National Center for Sustainable Mobility and many sponsors and technical partners. Several research groups and our departments are involved, to address in an integrated way issues of technological development, project management (led by the Connected Car & Mobility Observatory), but also design and communication.

In recent years, the Politecnico di Milano has been working intensively on the front of Artificial Intelligence and autonomous driving techniques applied to racing cars, and now, in view of a possible legislation on the circulation of autonomous cars on public roads, the “1000-MAD” project is a candidate as the first experimentation in the world of autonomous vehicles in public contexts, characterized by a very high variety of routes, iterated over several experimental rounds.


The vehicle that will be used for the experimentation is the brand-new Maserati MC20 Cielo, an iconic and emotional super sports car that combines the best of modern technologies with the charm of the history of Maserati (which has repeatedly intertwined with the history of the 1000 Miglia).

On this car, made available by Maserati, the Politecnico di Milano has installed all the technological elements of a “robo-driver” (actuation systems, sensors, computers, communication systems, and all the software that implements the AI-driver algorithms), to put an Artificial Intelligence behind the wheel of the “Cielo”.

The use of a Maserati as the vehicle base of this project also testifies to the intense research collaboration that has existed for more than a decade between the Politecnico di Milano and Maserati engineering in the field of electronic vehicle control & automation systems.

THE 1000 MIGLIA 2023

From 13 to 17 June, the Maserati MC20 Cielo will cross the entire route of the 1000 Miglia, tackling in “autonomous driving” mode some sections of the route, where the request for authorization to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport is being completed (in particular, the crossings of the cities of Bergamo and Brescia, Italian Capital of Culture 2023,  Milan, Ferrara, Modena and Parma). In the sections that will be authorized by that date, the vehicle will drive in total autonomy, respecting the rules of the Highway Code, as required by the historical regularity race in stages that takes place promiscuous to normal car traffic.


Participation in the 1000 Miglia 2023 is only the first step of “presentation” of the project. Once the 2023 edition of the “most beautiful race in the world” is over, a year of intense development and experimental refinement of the A.I-driver technology will start, in which the car will be trained on a route similar to that of the 1000 Miglia on municipal, provincial and state roads, and partly also motorway sections, with the ultimate goal of carrying out the entire route of the “1000 Miglia 2024” in autonomous mode.


To comply with the testing authorization requirements (D.M.70 “smart-roads”), the vehicle driven by the A.I-driver of the Politecnico di Milano must be constantly supervised by a human co-driver. In the 1000 Miglia of 2023 the co-driver will be exceptional: Matteo Marzotto, expert driver and member of the Board of Directors of 1000 Miglia S.r.l., with many experiences of participation in the historic 1000 Miglia. He will thus remember the 70th anniversary of his uncle Giannino’s victory (1953 edition), in an ideal handover between past, present and future. This link between human driver and artificial intelligence will be visually represented by an iconic object, under development at the Department of Design of the Politecnico, which will be unveiled at the opening of the 1000 Miglia and which will accompany Matteo Marzotto throughout the route.


The project also aims to make autonomous driving known to the public. According to data from the Connected Car & Mobility Observatory of the Politecnico di Milano, in fact, today Italian consumers are perfectly divided into 50% already inclined to use a self-driving car and another 50% against. The main reasons for those in favour are the convenience of “being able to do other activities during the journey” (45%), and greater safety (31%); conversely, opponents are held back by the discomfort of not having control of the car (37%) and the feeling of less security (33%). Evidence is therefore needed to inform and prepare consumers for the autonomous mobility revolution.


The “1000-MAD” project will enhance the Italian scientific and technological capacity, creating a unique experimental context in the world, in which to carry out research and development of new technologies for autonomous mobility. It will also help define regulatory interventions to promote the development and use of autonomous cars; create a connection between the main research centres and the territories active on the topic in Italy and abroad; it will collect and publish technical data to develop industrial strategies and technologies. Finally, the project aims to collect and publish data on the Italian territory, defining and calculating an AI Autonomous Drive Readiness Index, which can help all administrations to direct their policies (and resources) on priority issues for that territory.