With the British Grand Prix taking place at Silverstone at the beginning of this month, it felt fitting to focus on the Formula 1 industry. Especially given that we provide automotive electronic solutions.
The British Grand Prix is always one of the highlights of the Formula 1 season but this year it looked very different. For the first time, two F1 races were held at Silverstone over successive weekends (2nd and 9th August), with both events staged without any spectators because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite the Grand Prix being held behind closed doors this year, we thought we would shine a light on some of the industries most recent technological advancements. Formula 1 remains at the forefront of the technology revolution, with the cars being some of the most connected in the world and the technology reaching far beyond the automotive industry.
One notable development is the Hybrid Engine. Not only are they more efficient, than a combustion engine, they have made huge contributions to the evolvement of battery systems. These batteries can now be seen in our every day road vehicles, with their improved efficiency in turn helping to support the environment.
Furthermore Kinetic Engine Recovery Systems, which arrived on the F1 scene in 2009 to gather energy from a braking car and utilise it on the track, are now used not only in hybrid cars, but also in buses, taxis and truck units, helping make cities greener.
It doesn’t stop there, flywheel energy storage systems are now being used to power houses and businesses in some remote locations that are not connected to mainland supplies.
F1 cars collect data from numerous electronic sensors detecting mechanical and driver input. These sensors and data tools are integrated into our everyday life, from our road cars to our smart phones. F1 derived technology has even been used to help develop 5G infrastructure for connected road, rail and underground transportation in countries across the globe.
Some of the F1 technologies being developed and used will be vital to the future of autonomous road driving. A significant challenge is extracting a vast amount of data from the autonomous vehicle into a computer system where the data can be analysed quickly. The amount of data being managed per week in F1 is in the region of 8 - 10 Terabytes. This is not just from in-car activity, but also the manufacturing facilities that use Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), Computer-Aided Design (CAD), Wind Tunnels and other test rigs. Therefore this technology will go a long way to project autonomous driving in to a reality.
The technology used in these servers to manage data is also being transferred into medical products, specifically for continuous monitoring of patients in intensive care, helping to find trends and undertake research.
The digital era has not only changed the way cars are conceived and developed, it has also changed how they are produced. Traditionally the production of road cars and F1 cars has been very different. While road cars were produced on a large, industrial scale, F1 cars were manufactured on a comparatively small scale.
However, as modern manufacturing machines have also advanced in a world of connectivity and data processing, the gap between road car production and highly technical F1 car manufacturing has significantly shrunk. Different models can now be manufactured on the same production line and there are more choices for customers to spec their cars. Today's world of Formula 1 is now a perfect environment for testing tomorrow's road car production methods on a smaller scale.
All this culminates in an industry that is at the centre of the technological revolution, not only within the automotive world but by accelerating the future of technology in industries far reaching beyond the innovation of F1.
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