Dean Stoneman is one of Britain’s most talented young racing drivers. A former FIA Formula 2 champion, GP3 racer and Red Bull Junior Driver, he’s delivered race-winning performances in almost every series he’s competed in and this year will make the move up to Indy Lights with Andretti in the USA. He’s also an experienced test driver, with extensive simulator experience at the very highest level with Williams Advanced Engineering and the Red Bull F1 simulator.
Regulations and restrictions play an increasingly important role in the look and feel of modern racing. Motorsport series such as NASCAR, Formula 1 and IndyCar seek to simultaneously engage their audiences and maximize racing-related revenues, so a balance must be struck between unbridled speed and careful control.
We live in interesting times, to be sure. Pick an industry, group or movement, take a hard look, and you’ll see some interesting, consistent patterns. Not to oversimplify, but in many cases it is a matter of culture and technology bumping into each other awkwardly, hoping they can learn to become better dance partners.
If you’re connected to the automotive industry via work or interest, you might be exhilerated or alarmed – or anything in between – by current trends. The destination is decidedly unknown. For better or for worse, here are three emerging trends that are bound to make for an interesting journey:
If driving the Trans-Canada Highway in Newfoundland is not quite adventurous enough for you (and if the ripping wind does not force you to park your vehicle on the roadside), it might be worth your time to head for the northern-most extremes that can be reached, up highway 430 out of Deer Lake. It will take every bit of 5 hours to reach L'Anse aux Meadows, the spot where (as far as we know) humans first closed the loop on global exploration, where European Viking culture bumped into American Native culture sometime around the year 1000 CE.
A properly set up Driver-in-the-Loop (DIL) simulator is a crucial tool in helping technical managers and racing engineers deal with common issues they might encounter when preparing for a race. Let’s look at some of them:
If you are an engineer who uses driving simulators to develop Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), then the terminology “ground truth” means something specific to you. Ground truth representations define how your sensors and on-board systems interact with the virtual world, with calculated surfaces and objects. But if you are a technical manager, “ground truth” can have a double meaning.
I must apologize. I spend so much time “inside the loop” with driving simulator technology that I can unintentionally skip fundamentals when speaking with someone. This was recently brought to my attention in a conversation with a non-automotive technologist (a physicist, actually) who asked me about automotive industry trends, and how Driver-in-the-Loop simulators fit into the big picture.
At this junction in history, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and other on-board electronic systems are not only a reality; they are a dominating presence within vehicle development programs. Sophisticated sensor-plus-intelligence features that have been on the concept board for decades have already been successfully introduced via high-end vehicles, and are now commonplace in city cars – e.g. Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB). ADAS-type sensors and information processing technologies are also on the forward edge of autonomous vehicle control – literally and figuratively.
I time traveled last week and I have returned to describe the wonders of the future. My time machine was not a DeLorean (as in the Back to the Future film series), it was an autonomous, electrically powered pod, a silver and blue device that hummed along calmly, and deposited me at earth coordinates 44°53'31.6"N 0°33'58.4"W, the doorstep of the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) World Congress. I’m not sure in what year I landed. I would guess 2020 or thereabouts. I did not time travel alone. There were many others.
Today’s automobiles have as much in common with advanced consumer electronics as they do transportation. In fact, according to Car & Driver magazine, your car is the most advanced electronic device you own, with high-end luxury vehicles typically sporting more than 100 electronic control units (ECUs).
Safe and reliable operation of the vehicle is, of course, the primary objective during electronic systems confirmation testing - But there is more at stake here for automotive manufacturers. A subset of a vehicle’s computing power directly affects its drivability – its vehicle dynamics fingerprint and subjective character, which are crucial to brand identity and value perception. Over many years, companies like Ford and BMW (“Sheer Driving Pleasure”) have anchored their automotive brand identity on the way their cars drive. For these and many other manufacturers it is crucial that the myriad electronic systems placed between the driver and the road do not detract from the actual driving experience.