2011 F1 season
The FIA is using new software to automatically detect when a driver has broken the rules during a race.
Racewatch uses real-time data from lap timing, the Global Positioning System and tyre information to look for patterns in car movement that indicate a driver may have broken the rules.
The system works in conjunction with the Riedel Communications system used by the FIA to monitor races.
Gareth Griffith, the developer behind the software, told the FIA’s InMotion magazine how it works:
“The idea of using it for Race Control started a couple of years ago. We tied in the cameras with the timing and the GPS, so we knew exactly where a car was on the track.
“Then we started to analyse the data to pick out incidents. The software creates alerts and that automatically takes the Riedel technicians to the right cameras, instead of them having to find them, as used to happen.
“Within a few seconds [race director] Charlie [Whiting] can be looking at the incident: either for safety purposes or to refer it to the stewards. It is automated, using the data available and algorithms based on the interactions in that data.
“In the case of baulking, for example, the algorithms can analyse the proximity of two GPS signals to see how long it takes the car behind to close from five to two seconds behind the car in front. We can then measure how long the second car stays behind the first and if there is no time lost then there was no incident.”
The software has been developed since 2008. Racewatch can already detect certain kinds of incidents automatically and even determine which driver is at blame for a collision. But the decision to give a penalty remains in Whiting’s hands.
“The data can show us when a car is not behaving as it should be behaving and so we can ascertain at what moment that changed and if there was another car in close proximity at that moment.
“There are already automatic alerts for speeding under yellow flags, which is hard to spot by eye, and they now come up automatically using the data, but with all of this it is still Charlie’s decision whether to refer incidents to the Stewards and their decision as to whether the driver is penalised or not.”
You can read more about the system in the current issue of InMotion (PDF link).
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