By Ana Balashova (@coinjive)
July 19th, 2018

Driverless Cars to Compete in Formula 1 Soon. Maybe.

Driverless Cars to Compete in Formula 1 Soon. Maybe.

By Ana Balashova (@coinjive)
July 19th, 2018

Can Formula 1 be more exciting if utilizing artificial intelligence, machine learning, and blockchain? Apparently, yes! We’ve already covered how disruptive tech implemented in the car industry is, but now we have even more news for those who follow racing, one of the most competitive sports in our solar system.

In the recent years, established racing teams have been rapidly adopting high-end technologies as one of the foundations for keeping a competitive advantage. E.g., Williams Martini Racing has been utilizing IoT and behavior intelligence technology to identify and prevent various data breaches. Intel partnered with Ferrari Challenge to bring artificial intelligence to the racetrack. Formula 1 was planning to use cloud technology and machine learning to deliver more engaging statistic, like predictions on tv and its digital platforms for fans watching races there. The list goes on.

Monisha Kaltenborn, former Sauber Formula One team’s boss and now KDC Racing Formula 4 team manager, knows a ton about innovations in racing. That’s why Future Times decided to grill her with some burning questions on the topic.

F.T.: You’ve seen this tech adoption happening while working at Sauber one of the techiest F1 teams. What are your top 3 personal favorite surprising use cases of evolving tech in F1 racing?

M.K.: Formula 1 represents the pinnacle of motorsport showcasing the highest level of technology. The speed factor plays a role not only on the track but also when it comes to collecting vast amounts of data, analyzing it and retrieving it quickly.  

First of all, to keep up with higher level needs, one has to increase the quantity and quality of simulations. Furthermore, one has to make track operations and performance more efficient, taking into account all technical regulations.

A modern F1® car is equipped with smart actuators and sensors making her connected to several communication busses through a network. Intelligent sensors can pre-process data they measure and make decisions about the information they send out (e.g., model-based data verification). Actuators are controlled at a high level where their internal ECU controls the low-level functionality (e.g., a fuel pump gets a speed target on a communication bus and controls motors magnetic field).

Finally, the data collected inside a modern F1® car have to be transmitted in real time which is vital not only for the teams but also for the drivers.

For example, the steering wheel is the embedded electronic masterpiece acting as an interface between the driver and the sensors. This critical component is the central point where all distributed functionalities come together. A driver sees the data as it is transmitted to the garage via telemetry for the engineers using a paddock network.

F.T.: Driverless cars are about to hit the race tracks. Roborace, the autonomous race car maker, had its two self-driving ‘DevBots’ compete against each other at the Formula E Buenos Aires ePrix. Do you think driverless cars can ever substitute human drivers?

M.K.: In my opinion, they shouldn’t. A vehicle should remain controlled by a human being. There are too many risks involved that cannot be covered. However, looking at current developments, it appears that there is a trend towards creating a new User Experience, as a Byton concept operated by language and movements, via a screen.  

F.T.: In your personal opinion, is it possible to ensure the leadership of any team in a competition relying purely by technological advantage? Why?

M.K.: Leadership is a complex combination of technical and human factors. Of course, you need to have highly advanced and competitive tools, but the human component is equally important, i.e., the ability to listen and be decisive, all this together with the ability to learn from one’s mistakes.

F.T.: Following the previous question, do you think it’s possible for a team, let’s say F4 league one, to create such excelling technological edge that will propel it to F1?

M.K.: While F4 to F3 to F2 is a standard way for drivers to reach F1, this cannot be applied to the technology involved. The primal reason for this is that technological development at the highest level only takes place in F1. Other series are more about team efficiency and driver skills.

F.T.: Let’s move to blockchain and racing. Williams Martini Racing signed a multi-year partnership with Omnitude – a “middleware plug and play blockchain built on Hyperledger Fabric.  According to the Omnitude’s blog: “The convergence of Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning, the Internet of Things, and Distributed Shared Ledgers (Blockchain) is the technology trifecta for the next generation of applications. Omnitude and Williams Martini Racing have been separately exploring and will now begin jointly innovating in this convergence space”.  

So, basically, there’s no clear way to apply tech on both sides yet. What’s your take on separate team competitive advantage, blockchain potential and the industry in general?  

M.K.: I am certainly no expert on Blockchain technology. It is very intriguing and represents the next natural step after IoT leading to Artificial Intelligence. I do believe, that current simulation programmes and software solutions are the first steps in this direction. Therefore, I think that it is just matter of time before blockchain technology increases competitiveness by getting quicker simulation results and thereby improving efficiency or calculating strategies based on real-time circumstances.

F.T.: We heard you’ve recently joined Crypto Rally team as a special advisor. What’s your role in the project, why did you decide to join and what should participants expect during the first rally across Lithuania on 20 – 22 of July?

M.K.: Crypto Rally is a unique experience combining one of the most active and rapidly developing cutting-edge technologies with the techy and emotional world of motorsports. Blockchain is the future, and I am privileged to be part of it. Coming from the techno world, I learned that the best way to approach a new area is through thrilling experiences and that is what the Rally will help participants achieve.

To register for the Crypto Rally, please contact emile@cryptorally2018.com and visit its official website. The registration is open, and the rally starts next week.

If you are not able to attend, Future Times will be covering this event from start to finish on our website and on social media (Instagram, Twitter and more). Stay tuned!

Disclaimer: it is a partner promotional feature written in collaboration with Crypto Rally.