Firestone Grand Prix 2022: Smart Connections Speed Around the Track
While cars raced at more than 100 mph around the track at the Firestone Grand Prix car race on Sunday, sensors and connected technology were the highlight of action behind the scenes.
At the race in St. Petersburg, Florida, the official opening of the national NTT IndyCar Series that features the well-known Indianapolis 500, the cars are mechanical but most everything else is digital, with lots of Internet of Things (IoT) technology.
Each car has a pit stop, where tires are rapidly changed — Firestone provided more than 1,400 race tires for the event, some of which can cost $1,000 each – and cars are fueled at high speed.
Each pit stop also houses a screened tent where eight or more people sit in a circle, each wearing connected headsets and each focused on their own PC, where they track data being sent from their cars as they fly around the track.
All the race cars contain numerous sensors and information captured via live radio streams, including speed, steering, gear action and many other activities.
For example, at the pit stop of Arrow McLaren, which had two cars in the race, the system can track information from 150 channels, according to a member of the pit stop crew who spoke between races.
As soon as a race starts, everyone in the tent is totally focused on their individual screen, with each tracking and documenting different sensor activities.
One car developed by Arrow McLaren is equipped with custom IoT capabilities that enable live streaming and replay of telemetry, driver biometrics, environmental conditions and driver point-of-view video in real time.
“For us, speed is everything,” McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown told AI Business at a past AI Summit London. “Our car has 18,000 parts and over the course of about every six weeks of the season, we replace every single one of them.”
At the Andretti Autosport pit stop, there also were two crews, one that that manages the tire and fuel duties and the one that manages the data, with both crews side by side, though the PC data crews don’t leave their seats nor spend much time even looking at the cars.
Andretti Autosport had two cars in the Grand Prix.
“We can track six of our cars at a time on the track,” Max Bolin, system engineer at Andretti Autosport said at the race car company pit stop. “We monitor all our cars.”
Following the race, all the data is analyzed, which is where artificial intelligence comes in, to make sense of so much data.
As the pit stop crews pack up, all the used tires are hauled away and the cars are towed to their respective lots for post-race inspections, the tent PC crew packs their laptops and big screens and heads to data analysis land.
This is the new world of racing.