IoT Monkey > Editorial > The IoT technologies behind Formula 1

The IoT technologies behind Formula 1

On my way to the Internet of Things and Smart Cities Ph.D. School in Lerici, Italy I am having a little pit stop. I have just arrived at Milan and tomorrow I am going to the F1 race at Monza with my spouse. I admit I know nothing about F1 rules, but I spent a lot of time learning about the tech behind it.

F1 has actually always amazed me – the speed, the thrill, the reactions that a driver has to possess to stay alive. Yet, I was always a football guy and I never had the habit to watch F1 – probably because my team used to play by the same time as the race. I have literally no idea of the rules.

So, while I was at the SenZations in Croatia, I sat down one evening and started reading about F1 rules. It didn’t took me long before I somehow switched to reading about the techs these cars used.

Well.. F1 cars are.. well.. extremely smart. There is some very sophisticated engineering put behind them and they are definitely designed for tough competitions. That is what I can tell from first sight. It may sound lame, but I am now digging in below – making my point out.

F1 racers depend heavily on timing and timing can be a really tough if you have to calculate sharply decisions such as passing, accelerating, breaking and steering. In fact, it can be lethal if you have to do this on your very own and in the meantime, well.. drive with between 200 and 250km/h.

This is why, racers heavily depend on technologies. Handful of sensors collect, process and extract data from various sources then provide it to the driver. This usually happens on the HUD (Head Up Display) or trough various signaling mechanisms, including vibrating belts and vibrating planks in racer’s suit.

There is a large amount of data collected by these sensors. Each and every F1 car is equipped with more than 120 sensors – measuring nearly every aspect of the environment. Measurements range from simple tasks – such as humidity to complex ones such as telemetrics.

Sensors generate between 1.5 and 2Gb of data per race, while the electronic control unit (ECU) throws out up to 4 megabytes per second. Across and around every track in the championship, a really massive fiber network is installed, so that data can be transmitted in real-time, ensuring no interruption – no matter the speed, the maneuver or whatsoever. This data is critical. Racer’s life depends on it. Even the most skillful driver cannot make it without the data collected from the sensors and the commands issued from the pit based on that data.

The real masterminds behind every driver’s success are the engineers. Engineers not only make sure that all the embedded system in the car and its systems function properly. They in fact create them from the ground. Most of the goodies we have in our cars nowadays, they were pioneered by F1 engineers.

It is probably well known by every F1 fan, but as someone that does not know a dime about F1 I can already tell that as long as you have outstanding engineering crew, then your success is guaranteed. Engineers make sure that the car of their team is designed to ensure maximum results and they will work endlessly towards increasing capacity for performance until the achieve their end goal.

If there is a place where technologies, in particular the IoT ones, flourish – this definitely is Formula 1. Cars, in general – they are becoming more and more connected, as Plamen Barzakov from Mazda Connect recently mentioned. Pioneering this things definitely happens at F1. I am going to witness that live now.