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much fuel is put in the tank, how the tyres are wearing. Previously, this had all been carried out using a pen and notepad.


ROBUST HARDWARE Motor racing is a harsh environment for electronics, with a wide temperature range, precipitation, and all manner of other challenges. The huge amount of travel undertaken by the teams is also relevant, as is the robustness of the hardware itself, as the vibrations caused by a Formula 1 engine running in a garage, for example, could easily damage a spinning disk hard drive. Previously, the Red Bull team’s use of pencil, three-part paper forms and dry erase boards would mean that information took at least 15 minutes to be available to all the other team members. As a result, in Cup races where strategy is critical, the team would not receive the data in time to make strategic decisions before the next pit stop. Consequently, they felt they needed a better method of data sharing, so looked for a technological solution. Pirelli, too, was looking for


The Mobile Demand xt T7000 tablet, as used in NASCAR and by Pirelli in F1


the first place. Things like screen size resolution and information like that we get through our relationship with Microsoft. It is all about having the right code and the right people in the right place. We also have an iPhone and iPad app developer in house, though I can’t tell you what he is working on yet!’ But Cosworth is not the first


to look at tablet computing for trackside use. This new piece of electronic technology has been tried and tested in the least likely place, NASCAR. In 2010, the now defunct Red Bull Racing NASCAR Cup team (RBR) was looking for a competitive advantage and chose to adopt the newest digital technology. The team was renowned in Stock Car racing for


its implementation of cutting- edge technology and wanted to automate the collection and distribution of critical car performance and equipment data in real time to speed up decision making at the track. Working with real-time data would let the team make quicker decisions that could change the outcome of each race – when to call for a pit stop, how


a system of tyre management when it arrived in Formula 1 at the start of 2011, especially as the outgoing supplier declined to sell their system to the Italian firm. Interestingly, both Red Bull and Pirelli opted for the same rugged, military-spec tablets from Iowa-based firm, Mobile Demand. The xt Tablet T7000 runs Windows 7 and is powered by the Intel Atom processor found in many netbook-style PCs. But additional to that basic functionality, the tablet offered extensive communication capabilities, allowing teams to set up their own secure wireless network with built-in WiFi, as well as integrate their mobile ’phone receivers. For both Red Bull and Pirelli,


tyres were at the core, and a critical component of the tablet was a barcode scanner. This was used by both to track tyres through their life, especially when in use at the track. For Red Bull, what started out as a search for a product to replace a standalone barcode scanner produced a single, rugged PC


July 2012 • www.racecar-engineering.com 29


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