@Credits: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team
How FORMULA ONE IS Accelerating The Future?
For decades, Formula One is not only the Champions League in motorsport, Formula One is also known as the fastest R&D lab on earth. The notion was that motor racing technology would sooner or later trickle down to road car technology. Since the introduction of hybrid powertrains, F1 cemented itself at the forefront of technology, from consumer electronics to medical technology and smart cities.
HYBRID POWER UNIT:
When we see the engine first fire-up that’s the point that we say that the Power Unit has come alive. Some of the dramatic steps that are taking in the naturally aspirated era, where hitting 20,000rmp. But in the hybrid era, starting in Melbourne 2014 at 44% thermal efficiency, that was an amazing achievement. And now, having Power Units that achieve 50% thermal efficiency, those sort of milestones are points the career as an engineer that you will always remember. 2014 regulations aligned the mission of the road car world with that of Formula One. And so, everything they work on now does have relevance in not just the road car world but many energy conversions.
So, over the course of a weekend they might run anywhere from 200 to 400 sensors, it really depends on the day. So, on Friday, for instance, when they are getting the car developed and are really trying to gather as much information as possible, which might have up to 400 individuals sensors on the car over the course of the weekend and take sensors off the car to get it down of fighting weight, the racing weight. One of the things you may have spotted on television before is the little pod, and that contains a series of temperature sensors that are actually looking towards the front tyre and giving a profile of temperature all across the front of the tyre. And the driver has access to that information on his dash, so he is really getting direct feedback about what the tyre is doing and how it is reacting to everything that he does in the corner. Not many years ago they’ve had a telemetry link to the car that was bi-directional, so they could send settings back to the car. And that’s no longer allowed, because People began to feel the engineers were driving the car. So, instead what has now is a really nice situation where the loop around the driver is being closed and all that information exists to amplify what the driver can do and make the car do exactly what he wants it to do. That sort of synthesis between the driver and the car is stronger than ever because of the amount of data. When the car comes back to the garage, a high bandwidth link is going to pull that information off the car. So, by the time the driver gets back in the garage, the tyre engineers are looking at those thermal camera images and they know exactly what his tyre have been doing throughout that lap. Connecting the car is as if they were connecting a laptop and it also powers the car and allows to do some other settings. A lot of these high bandwidth systems they both come from and make their way back into the things like high bandwidth smartphones. Some of that technology comes to them from that world, and some of the development they do with them makes its way back into those devices I.e. 5G wireless technologies to download a huge amount of data in a matter of few seconds rather than many minutes.
Both in the road car and Formula One world, simulation technology plays a major part. In fact, the whole design and development are very much now in the digital domain. Engineers should make sure that simulation matches the real world, so real world data is being checked that F1 simulation is correct. It would not be possible to attain this level of sophistication just by wind tunnel testing without addictive layer manufacture. It’s an earlier days for machine learning, that solve difficult problem that engineers couldn’t have solved a few years ago.
It’s a really tough environment, so if you can make technology work on a Formula One car, you can definetely make it on a road car setting up what might be the equivalent of a data centre for a small company, but setting up a garage every week in 21 countries a year with high noise, high carbon dust coming off the brakes, it’s a pretty terrible place to try and set up a data centre. Now, the challenges for the road car will be the collection huge amounts of data, so again wireless data technology is going to be really important, finding ways to send more data, faster. You have started to see for instance on road cars tyre pressure sensors that are within the wheels and will give you an indicator if you are starting to lose pressure in a wheel, and those things work their way into brake-by-wire systems or anti-lock-braking systems that are on road cars.