Keys to Success: Data and Communication
Data is crucial to fine tuning a race car's performance. And clear, continuous communication – between driver and engineer – is essential for a fine performance on the track.
It has been a busy few months. There were trips to Mexico City, Mexico and shortly after, Long Beach, California, which was Andretti Formula E team’s home race and saw TE entertain 45 customers, distributors, and employees. I also participated in a panel discussion that talked about our partnership with Andretti Technologies and some of the key trends we are seeing. (You can watch a video replay of this discussion below.) The atmosphere was great in Mexico City and Long Beach, which is nice to see since Formula E is only in its second season. We are now preparing for Paris and at the same time, the Season 3 car. Compared to the Fall races, there is less time in between the Spring races, making this a very busy time. Plus, IndyCar has started its season so there is a lot of activity in the shop.
Originally broadcasted by ECN, this panel features TE engineers talking about life in the world of Formula E racing. This discussion focuses on TE's partnership with Andretti Technologies and how this is enabling TE to develop innovative engineering solutions and test products in the harsh environment of autosport.
Analyzing and Obtaining Data
I have been getting familiar with Atlas Lite, a software developed by McLaren for race data analysis, an essential tool for understanding vehicle dynamics. For example, if the car is locking up its front right tire entering a corner, I can look up the wheel speed, suspension travel, brake temp, steering angle, etc. and understand the cause. The driver could then correct his/her driving style or mechanics could adjust the suspension to prevent the lock up from happening in the next practice session. It is just another way that data helps inform us to make changes and adjustments.
One of the areas we are looking to help the team out is with the radio communication, especially for IndyCar since there are many components that interfere with the radio signals.
Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) shielding becomes important and picking up the correct frequency is a challenge especially with the number of race cars running at the event. In addition, there are obstacles at the track that block the signal causing vehicle to infrastructure communication performance to be reduced.
There are so many different types of signals flying around during the race day that even the cell phone signals and Wi-Fi signals start to get lost. In order to improve on these issues, I have selected a couple of wires on the vehicle that can be replaced with fiber optics. We are also looking into improving the antenna design by using our 3D-printing technology and integrating it as part of the race car body. Our antenna team visited the Long Beach IndyCar race to review the race day setup and investigate where improvements can take place. I'm excited to learn about their findings and solutions.
GRC VW Tail Light Connector
I received a request from the Volkswagon (VW) Andretti Rallycross team in regards to AMP MCP auto connector crimp. You can find the DEUTSCH Autosport connectors throughout all of Andretti’s race cars. However, this was a unique case where the OEM connector was used. VW Beetle GRC car uses the MCP connector to mate into the OEM VW taillight and they are looking for crimp tool for this connector. I was able to track down the connector and crimp tool using TE.com and samples are on its way. It is great to see that TE automotive connectors are durable for race conditions!
Paying It Forward
One of the best aspects of my job is the people I get to meet and interact with at the races. In Long Beach, TE hosted engineering students – from California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech); University of California (UC), Irvine; and California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly) – in the paddock to learn about the cars. Cal Poly students drove four-hours each way! They are all part of their university racing teams, which brought back many memories to my time at Drexel University. They all had excellent and very specific questions and I’d like to think that we gave them some good insights to better help them build their own cars. I wish them all good luck!
Looking Ahead to Paris
We have the Paris race coming up. We are all excited for it as this is the first time Formula E is racing in the City of Lights. The track looks great and all tickets have been sold out so it will be a great atmosphere. Our cars were quite strong in Long Beach and it was unfortunate that Robin had an incident where another car hit him from behind, ruining his race. We are hoping to rebound and I know the team is very motivated. More when I get back from Paris. Take Care - Ishin