I got out of Bronze league today. I didn't care about collisions at all, but I refined a lot the code to move the pod.
I tried to code it as if i was driving the pod myself. Basically, what I did is the following :
* If the angle is too big, I start to turn, so my thrust depends on the angle (the bigger the angle, the less thrust i apply)
* Now if I have a low enough angle, depending on my distance to the checkpoint, I either boost if the distance is big enough, or thrust=100, or if i'm close enough i begin a "slowing down" phase
The slowing down phase does two things for me : 1) I slow down, but at the same time, 2) I start rotating my ship towards the next checkpoint.
As I don't know yet the second checkpoint, I assume it is at the center of the map (it's the highest probable). As soon as I know all the checkpoints, I know exactly where to go.
It's far from being a perfect algorithm.. But at least it's quite good heuristic if I assume I'm alone in the race. Sometimes the pod tends to "turn" around the checkpoint because it went too fast on it, but then I adjust the parameters and it goes alright.
It does not take into account collisions, so when I uploaded my code, 90% of my failures were because of collisions. But that was enough to beat the Boss
I see people have tried genetic algorithms and stuff like that.. I guess I will have to do something like that once I'm in Gold. But for now I prefer keeping it to simple heuristics that I complexify iteratively