I/O at 200 miles per hour: Page 2 of 3

April 02, 2020 //By Stephen Hayes
It’s not controversial to suppose that Formula One (F1) is a sport of extremes. The drivers are the best, the cars are the fastest and the races the most intense. Another aspect that pushes boundaries is the data collection, handling and manipulation infrastructure that enables car condition monitoring, race timing and much more.

Racing variable monitoring

This cutting-edge track monitoring is a mere slice of the I/O technology apparent in F1 racing, however. While these systems are blisteringly fast and handle a lot of data, the volume pales in comparison to onboard telemetry. Unlike many classes of racing, in F1 the car is as much of an athlete as the drivers, especially considering the high speeds and lengthy race distances. This is highlighted by the two F1 championships— the constructor’s championship for the engineering teams, and the separate driver’s championship.

Real time condition monitoring of the car is crucial to staying competitive. Each F1 car bristles with sensors and monitoring equipment, keeping a constant eye on every possible variable of the vehicle and driver — from brake thermometers, airspeed pitots and g-force sensors, to driver blood-oxygen levels and heart rate.

During practice sessions, qualifying and the race itself, multiple gigabytes of data courses out of the car and is analysed in real-time by ranks of computers and engineers. They look for how making minor adjustments to the car, anything from suspension strength to fuel mixture, could glean the slightest competitive advantage around the next corner. The sheer volume of data handling in F1 is arguably unparalleled within sports and most other disciplines. You have to look to industries to find suitable comparisons, where on production lines potentially thousands of sensors can be feeding gigabytes of real time data back through common buses, coordinating with one another on similar millisecond timescales to F1 timings.

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