Australia's car industry is backing the automotive engineers of the future by supporting local university teams in Formula SAE-A, which will bring together more than 30 student-built racers in December.

Formula SAE-A is a high-tech engineering competition where university students design, build and compete in Formula-style open-wheeled racing cars.

Now in its 20th year, it is run by the Society of Automotive Engineers – Australasia (SAE-A), the Asia Pacific professional body for automotive and mobility engineers.

SAE-A chairman Adrian Feeney said local automotive companies had provided invaluable financial and in-kind support to FSAE-A.

"We enjoy significant financial contributions from Ford, Toyota and Paccar Australia, which builds Kenworth trucks in Australia, and major in-kind support from many others," he said.

"This month, for example, GM Holden is making its Proving Ground at Lang Lang available to four of the Melbourne-based teams to test their cars at a world class facility.

"FSAE-A is a prime recruiting ground for engineering jobs at companies like Ford, Holden, Paccar and many other companies which have substantial local engineering teams.

"Team members are often headhunted for the unique skillsets they have developed in engineering, management, leadership, teamwork, marketing and finance."

Thousands of students, volunteers and spectators will be at this year's event, including teams from the UK, Germany, India, Japan, New Zealand and USA.

A highlight will be demonstration runs by Australia's first student-built, fully autonomous race car, the Monash Motorsport M19-D, ahead of its competition debut in Germany next year.The M19-D showcases the latest innovations in driverless automotive technology, including complex environment perception algorithms and robust actuation hardware.

Monash Motorsport chief executive officer, Paras Bhutiani, said the M19-D was developed over three years by a team of more than 200 undergraduate students at Monash University.

It combines artificial intelligence, super-accurate GPS, an advanced LiDAR laser scanner and a stereoscopic camera system with an electric powertrain proven in more than 1000km of track testing.

The 20th annual Formula SAE-A runs over four days, 5-8 December, at Winton Motor Raceway in north-east Victoria.