Assembly line workers’ greatest fear are robots and automation. When technology makes its way into their workplace, it usually means displaced jobs. Lewis Hamilton, three-time Formula 1 world champion, jokingly shared this sentiment when it came to self driving cars stating “That’s a terrible idea, because I want to have a job.” Even though there is some truth to that statement, Hamilton followed up with a more serious thought saying that while self driving cars will someone take over human driven cars, there’s a long way to go before that happens.
As technological advancements happen around us in the world, automakers are looking for more and more ways to integrate state of the art technology into everyday vehicles to enhance the occupants’ experience. In Formula One, Hamilton talks about WiFi and the ability to transmit data to the Mercedes AMG Petronas engineers live time. In a cut throat sport, ever millisecond matters. In today’s cars leveraging technology creates a better and safer vehicle. The foundational technology around self driving vehicles which includes sensors to track cars in front, beside, and behind the vehicle, as well as electronic speed adjustment is all used to improve vehicle safety by allowing the car to react to a potential accident situation before it actually happens.
After a long winter, Formula One is officially back! The cars got back on track early this morning, and as usual, we are not any closer to understanding the pecking order between the teams. FP1 saw all the teams run their installation laps and start cranking out a few laps, with HRT running their first ever laps in the brand new car. Having missed all of winter testing, the car was suffering problems and sat on stands until the last few minutes of FP1. Senna had a chance to run 3 installation laps to shake down the car and returned to the pits without running an actual timed lap. Teammate Karun Chandhok had it worst, watching from the sidelines as his car was not ready to run. His car has not hit the track for either sessions today.
The big news today is that the FIA has given McLaren the go ahead on their driver controlled blown wing system, which has given Hamilton the top trap speeds for both sessions at 311km/h. There were many vocal opponents to the system, mainly, Bob Bell from Renault, who ranted live on the BBC broadcast. He believes McLaren is cheating, even though he also admits that the system does adhere to the regulations. Ross Brawn from Mercedes was also critical of the system, complaining that the teams now have to invest a huge amount of money to research, copy, and develop a competing system. Funny he wasn’t complaining last year when his Brawn GP car had the radical double diffuser, which was also approved, and led to the exact scenario for the other teams that had to copy the idea.
Red Bull has given up on protests, and knows they have to copy the system. It started off right at the photo shoot before FP1, where Webber and Vettel were sneaking around the McLaren chassis and looking inside whenever possible.
As teams struggle to copy the system, some interesting tidbits has come to light. For 2010, the monocoque is homogolated, therefore you can not change the tub to accomodate the system. McLaren has a hole in their tub in front of the driver for the snorkel to draw air into the cockpit control system, so other teams can not simply drill in a new hole there. They have to use existing holes, which will be hard to come by. F1 engineers do not like holes in the tub, as it weakens the stiffness of the tub. An option is to run it through the nosecone, with the inlet at the tip, but trying to get the airflow from there, to a driver control system, to the rear wing will prove difficult with a lack of access holes. F1 engineers are most likely the smartest engineers on this planet, so expect the teams to find and copy the system a few races in.
Renault, being off the pace as predicted, has asked the FIA to allow them to make changes to their engines. The team feels that they are 30hp behind the front runners, and has asked for special permission to modify their engines to catch up. If this gets approved, Red Bull will benefit huge, as a boost in power will bring them closer to the front runners. Even though Red Bull was a heavy favorite in pre-season testing, they did not make a big impression in either practice sessions.
Free Practice 2 saw most teams doing long run simulations, where Hamilton somehow managed to destroy his rear tires in only 4 laps at the beginning of the session. As tire wear management will be the key to winning races this year, Lewis has a bit of work to do to catch up to Button’s superior tire management skills. Because most teams were doing long runs, there were no blistering times, and again, we’re still just as lost as we were 2 weeks ago when winter testing wrapped up as to where the teams stand. At Mercedes, Rosberg clocked the fastest time, which means he beat out his teammate, seven time World Champion Michael Schumacher, in both sessions. Awesome.
Back to HRT, how did they end up doing? Senna got a few timed laps in, and ended FP2 with the car stopped as the rear wheel almost fell of the car. Ouch.
1. Sutil 1:56.583
2. Alonso 1:56.766 +0.183
3. Kubica 1:57.041 +0.458
4. Massa 1:57.055 +0.472
5. Button 1:57.068 +0.485
6. Hamilton 1:57.163 +0.580
7. Liuzzi 1:57.194 +0.611
8. Rosberg 1:57.199 +0.616
9. Webber 1:57.255 +0.672
10. Schumacher 1:57.662 +1.079
1. Rosberg 1:55.409
2. Hamilton 1:55.854 +0.445
3. Schumacher 1:55.903 +0.494
4. Button 1:56.076 +0.667
5. Vettel 1:56.459 +1.050
6. Hulkenberg 1:56.501 +1.092
7. Massa 1:56.555 +1.146
8. Petrov 1:56.750 +1.341
9. Alonso 1:57.140 +1.731
10. De La Rosa 1:57.255 +1.846
Mercedes GP Petronas Chassis: Mercedes MGP W01
Engine: Mercedes-Benz FO 108X
Drivers: Michael Schumacher (3), Nico Rosberg (4)
Yes, you read that correctly. 7 time world champion Michael Schumacher is back in F1, racing for the all German Mercedes GP team. As you all know, I’m not the biggest fan of MS, so I’m glad he’s back, so he can be finally challenged by the world’s best drivers in similar cars. Rosberg and Schumacher were neck and neck during testing, lapping times as one of the top 4 teams. Expect some surprised by the first race, as the team, even during week 4, was still using their 2009 diffuser. The 2010 aerodynamic package will be unveiled at the first 2010 F1 weekend. Unfortunately, we don’t know if this is due to running behind schedule, or if they’re hiding something revolutionary until the absolute last minute, so it’s really tough to figure out where they stand.
Save the best preview for last. All the cards are in McLaren’s favor for 2010. A blown wing that’s raised questions amongst other F1 teams, the 2 most recent World Champions piloting the cars, and of course, winning the winter championships by clocking the fastest laps in 3 of 4 weeks of testing. McLaren spent their 4 weeks gathering tons of data, as they have a huge development program throughout the season. They proved last year that they are the best at mid season developments now that testing is banned, so they are in a good position to leapfrog other teams, even if they aren’t the fastest at Bahrain this weekend. But from testing, they look like they are about to lead the charge, with Lewis Hamilton on the final day of testing showing what the MP4-25 is capable of in a long run, with the tires in excellent shape after each stint. Go McLaren!
You’re awake at 4:00am on a Sunday morning glued to your TV set watching the F1 race live because you are super hardcore. Chances are very good that your name is Shelton Kwan, a hardcore F1 fan that watches all practices, qualifying and races live. What was a dream will soon become a very real possibility for hardcore racing fans like Kwan, a chance to race with race car drivers like Lewis Hamilton, Robert Kubica, Felipe Massa or Kimi Raikkonen.
New technology by iOpener Media, a company from the Netherlands will allow video game players from around the world to race alongside race car drivers live. Using GPS data and vehicle telemetry data from live racing events, the system will be able to plot the race car drivers position into a Playstation3, Xbox360 (or any gaming console with online capabilities) game. With the real time GPS data, a drivers acceleration, braking and cornering information would be relayed into the game providing a virtual “opponent” to race against.
At the core of iOpener’s technology is an enhanced GPS system known as differential GPS (DGPS).
This uses a network of fixed base stations to correct the GPS signal, which on its own may only be accurate to within 10m. DGPS is commonly used for air navigation or shipping where precision is key.
Other tweaks include fitting cars with an inertial measurement unit (IMU), commonly used in guided missile systems, which measure acceleration, angle and yaw of the object.
“IMUs give accuracy on a short range,” Mr Lurling told BBC News.
“Combined with DGPS, we know the location of the car to within less than 30 centimetres.”
iOpener does not plan on developing racing games on its own but instead will license the technology to video game developers. It will focus on the development of the technology needed to blend the real time racing data with video game data to create a realistic racing environment. An example of the AI that would be necessary to create this racing experience was quite comical.
“If Hamilton is driving behind you he can’t see you [in the game], so he would drive right through you,” explained Mr Lurling.
“So the AI takes over at that point and you see a very realistic overtaking.”
Those of you that saw the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal would agree that even if Hamilton was driving behind you in real life, he would try to drive right through you!
It would be interesting to see what racing game franchise this technology would make it into. It would have to be in a simulator type racing title, and not an arcade-esque racing title like the Project Gotham Racing series.
There is a huge difference between what happens in the real world and what happens in video games – even the most ‘realistic’ simulator has to bend real world physics to make the game more fun,” he said.
However, even with the AI, he thinks gamers may encounter a more fundamental frustration with the system.
“I know I wouldn’t even get close to the lap times that Lewis Hamilton could run, unless my car in the virtual world had a load of extra grip and power – which might defeat the point,” he said.
He may be the father of Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton, but he certainly did not pass on the driving skills to his son. Earlier today Anthony Hamilton lost control of the twitchy Carrera GT on his way home on a sweeping right hander when it apparently spun, plowed up a grassy embankment and through some hedges.
When I first saw this story, I wondered if the car belonged to Lewis Hamilton. It would have made for a much better story. “Son, I took your car out without asking and umm… I crashed it!”. It would have been an epic story, a twist on the classic son crashing daddy’s car story.
In his defence, the Carrera GT is known to have some pretty wild snap oversteer. I’ve never driven one and probably will never drive one as I can’t afford to fix the car when (not if) it decides to spin around and smash into a wall.