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Supercomputing Transportation Technology

'Telecommuting' In Formula 1 90

flewp writes "This New York Times article on Formula 1 racing gives some insight into the workings of one of the most high-tech sports on the planet — consider that a few years ago, Sauber's supercomputer ranked toward the top of all the supercomputers in Europe. The teams bring to each race dozens of mechanics, support personnel, etc.; but back at their home bases, perhaps thousands of miles away, countless more engineers work (with the help of gobs of computing power) to give each team that extra edge."
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'Telecommuting' In Formula 1

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  • by cosm ( 1072588 ) <> on Saturday June 26, 2010 @05:18PM (#32704766)
    I initially read that as 'Teleporting in Formula 1'. And after realizing my err in judgement, I came to the conclusion that my original interpretation will still probably come true before we get flying cars (if they ever to arrive).

    Even funnier is the bloke who misreads it as 'Teleconferencing in Formula 1', those would be some badass conference calls, ones I might actually look forward to. It might make some of the mush-mouths get to the point fairly quickly when they have 700+ hp under their testicles, and are responsible for not decimating them in a fiery collision! Now thats synergy!
  • I mean. It's almost as boring as US car races but at least the tracks aren't ovals. God, almost fell asleep just at the thought.

    Excitement. Look at Touring cars, motorcycles; British Superbikes, now there are a bunch of complete nutters. The TT at the Isle of Man. Even MotoGP is better.

    Formula 1? What ...a ... bunch ... of ... BORING ... pussies.

    • This year's F1 season has been one of the most exciting since the early 90s. At least that's what I've been told. I've stopped watching since the days of Schumacher winning everything under the Sun.
    • Eh? Boring? You're not supposed to watch the races, the exciting stuff in Formula 1 takes place off the track, involving the directors of the sport: []

      Now that is a good, wholesome sport for the whole family to participate in!

      Root for the hooker of your choice!

      • Yea F1 is like the best reality show ever. A bunch of rich dudes who participate in the same sport and all the drama that happens off track. Way better than Jersey Shore.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by JamesP ( 688957 )

      F1 is usually less boring than:

      - soccer
      - baseball

      Even with all the messy rules.

    • I mean. It's almost as boring as US car races but at least the tracks aren't ovals.

      Nobody watches NASCAR for the racing, they watch it for the crashes.

      • Nobody watches NASCAR

        True. I don't think it's even available on non-specialist channels here.

        they watch it for the crashes.

        And precisely how does this distinguish "NASCAR" from every form of racing since Ben Hur went round the Colloseum (sorry, Circus Maximus?) wearing his wristwatch?

        OK, I'll make an exception - I doubt that the crashes at the dog track are particularly engaging. And people watching the Iditerod are probably more interested in the count of frostbitten toes, fingers and even heads.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dominious ( 1077089 )
      to be honest it is kind of boring...

      BUT I remember in my country there was a commentator who was really good at explaining all the technology going on behind each car, explaining how the weather and temperature affects the tires, the weight of the car on the turns etc..That made it quite interesting!
    • Actually, not ALWAYS. Some F1 races are boring, lately they have been more interesting.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by stewbacca ( 1033764 )

      I mean. It's almost as boring as US car races but at least the tracks aren't ovals.

      I love this argument. It only shows people who don't understand racing should just STFU.

      Anyone who is a fan of motorsports understands that NASCAR ovals are far more "exciting" than Formula 1. Just because they go in circles doesn't make it more fact, it provides more overtaking opportunities. A typical F1 track has one or two overtaking spots on the track. If they were to make an "oval-like" track (sometimes called a roval, or road-course oval), there'd be more passing in Formula 1.

      Also, if For

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by shiftless ( 410350 )

      Hey asshole, I know this might come as a shock to you, BUT-- everybody has different tastes! Imagine that, someone having a different opinion than you on what constitutes "exciting." They must hold this fucked opinion only because they haven't heard yours, and of course instantly recognized your great wisdom, right? I for one think drag racing is exciting. You might not, since it's only a boring -- YAWN -- straight line. Yet the difference is, that drag race will get me laid, while you still sit at home wan

  • by Low Ranked Craig ( 1327799 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @05:27PM (#32704818)

    A couple of weeks ago I was watching qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix on Speed Network, after which they showed the 24 hours of Le Mans, of which I watched about 10 hours worth. I was all excited and expecting the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday but no, it was some stupid NASCAR recap show (not a race) then some "Two Rednecks in a Garage" show. Pardon me for wanting to actually see racing and not that other crap. If you like racing, (not the kind that is a constant left turn), it's hard to find in the US. I really can't stand NASCAR - it's boring as hell except for the crashes. The rest of the world can have their "football" with their "nils" and whatnot. I just want some real road racing and rally racing, and no, monster truck rallies don't count either. /rant

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cosm ( 1072588 )
      Here is a good infographic of all the "different" tracks []. Their franchise track designer must have a bit of stifled creativity, except for the four road tracks. Oh, and the word 'infographic' is fucking stupid.
      • by cosm ( 1072588 )
        And in poor taste, I must also mention that the oval tracks were all done by a drunk guy twirling a compass, and the road tracks were done on his son's etch-a-sketch.
        • While I agree about oval track racing. You're way off WRT the road courses NASCAR runs on.
          One of them hosts the Canadian Gran Prix, another was where the US Gran Prix was run before it was moved to Indy, and the other two host some of the best sportscar racing around.
      • NASCAR is about speed. Plain and simple. I can't think of any other professional "league" or whatever that had to put in a speed limit...
        • 20 years ago Circuit de La Sarthe put chicanes onto the Mulsanne Straight after a Peugeot hit 258mph with the Project 400 team. I see the NASCAR speed record is only 212.8mph too. In any case, the speeds were too high, and it wasn't about the racing any more.

          Similarly, the NASCAR speed limits are to reduce costs and risks for teams during this economic weather, not for the enjoyment of spectators.

        • Every form of motorsports has had a speed or distance reduction. NHRA doesn't race quarter miles anymore, they run 1000 feet. F1, Indycars, LeMans, Rally, etc. cars can all be built to be way faster than is safe to drive. They don't put in a literal speed limit, but they do limit the power of the engines, traction control devices, aerodynamics and electronics to keep it down.

          The CART series cars had to cancel a race at Texas Speedway because some of the drivers were getting dizzy and disoriented from the

      • by pjt33 ( 739471 )

        And of those four road tracks, at least one appears to be primarily an F1 track rather than a NASCAR one. The clue's in the name of Montreal's track: Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

    • by tbuskey ( 135499 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @05:58PM (#32705022) Journal

      Speed is the NASCAR channel. I try to watch MotoGP on it. There was a 3 way battle for 2nd place going on last week and they cut away from it, just as an attack was going on to show 1st place, 4-5 seconds ahead, cruising across the finish. *sigh*

      There's lots of cutting away from a race to show a NASCAR repeat. ESPN used to do it with Supercross & cut off the end to show the football draft rerun. At least Speed treats supercross better then ESPN.

      FWIW, I heard about an F1 race with 2-3 lead changes in a race. The next week I saw a MotoGP with 4 lead changes in *1* corner.

    • There are certain races which Speed doesn't have US rights to, the Canadian GP being one of them. It was broadcast on Fox, although (thank god) with the standard Speed commentary team.

    • by tjhayes ( 517162 )
      The race portion of the Canadian Grand Prix was on Fox that weekend. Fox does 4 races during the middle of the season. It was actually quite an interesting race, too bad you missed it.
    • Canada and this weeks Euoprian Gran Prix are on Fox here in the states.
      Which sucks because they do it on delay. And I like to use the F1 app on my iPad to watch live timing and scoring.
  • Remote driving (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LambdaWolf ( 1561517 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @05:43PM (#32704920)

    That's interesting, but I'll really be interested when they invent a motor sport where the cars are driven remotely. I'm thinking of kind of a virtual reality rig where the controls simulate being inside the car. No one would go for this in the present types of auto racing even if it were allowed, since they would have a disadvantage even if the technology advanced considerably: the driver would lack certain kinds of information from sound and touch, not to mention signal lag.

    But imagine if there were a separate motor sport where everyone drives that way. Not only would the technology itself be cool, but think of how much more riskily they could drive without any danger to human life. It's my understanding that drivers are always trying to push the envelope that way anyway (and the rules have to be revised to push back in the direction of safety), so presumably it would expand the sport with different machinery and perhaps new techniques that would be too dangerous otherwise. And the crash-happy spectators would certainly like it, and might feel less like ghouls for enjoying the spectacular destruction of machinery without the uncomfortable reality that there's a human being in there. (Or is that the appeal? I don't know.)

    Also, we need to build military vehicles that work the same way. On the ground, that is—Predator drones already kick ass.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by schnikies79 ( 788746 )

      The danger to human life is part of the thrill. Take that away and it's just a fancy video game.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Risha ( 999721 )
        Interestingly, apparently some of the drivers have trained for unfamiliar tracks using... GT4, I think? And Speed had an amusing segment a few years ago where they filmed a driver (Nico Rosburg?) do a virtual run all the way around the track with his eyes closed, with an accompanying feed showing that it would be very nearly a perfect run on the real thing.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by flewp ( 458359 )
          The teams go WAY beyond the GT series. [] The simulators are usually proprietary custom made rigs.
        • It's one of those things that only translates one way. Race/high performance drivers can use GT3/4 games to learn tracks but being awesome at GT4 isn't going to make you great on the track. Normal people have a danger threshold that kicks in when they're actually doing 120mph IRL in a car as opposed to pixels on a screen.

          • Re:Remote driving (Score:5, Insightful)

            by flewp ( 458359 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @09:58PM (#32706286)
            Not only that, but driving a car, especially a Formula 1 car, is an extremely demanding activity. Racing in the comfort of your house, sitting on a couch, is nothing compared to sitting in the cockpit of a car, with temps that can exceed 100+ in your nomex racing suit, while dealing with up to 5 lateral g. Not to mention the fact that all the while you're not just driving the car like you do in the GT series, but you have to be in communication with your race engineers and look after your tires, your brakes, the engine, fuel consumption, basically everything.
            • Re:Remote driving (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Weedhopper ( 168515 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @10:31PM (#32706418)

              Heh, you're preaching to the choir.

              I have an extremely strong neck. I've been a competitive judo player and wrestler since I could walk and one of the first things an experience training partner or opponent notices about me is my neck strength.

              I've driven, co-driven and pre-run some fairly competitive Group N rallies - Safari Rally, Pearl of Africa (rarely finished, never placed). I'd say my neck strength endurance is about average for a upper nationals rally driver.

              The neck strength required for F-1 is an order of magnitude higher. Most people don't quite literally physically don't have what it takes to take an F-1 car around just half a lap without either hurting themselves or stalling out.

              • Which is why you might see F1 drivers go to NASCAR but NEVER in the opposite direction (cause MOST cup drivers...not all) have a steady diet of Schlitz (Eww) and cheesburgers (Mmm)

                • by flewp ( 458359 )
                  I know you're being sarcastic and all, but...

                  Physical fitness isn't the biggest stumbling block for Nascar drivers to get into F1. Sure, some of them are sorta "pudgy", but if necessary, and desired, they have the resources to get fit enough for F1.

                  Good drivers, no matter what series they race in, can usually handle other types of cars reasonably well. The problem is they lack the experience to make up those last few tenths to actually be competitive. Jeff Gordon and Juan Pablo Montoya did a pub
              • by flewp ( 458359 )
                Cool stuff. I'd like to get into rally driving myself, but have neither the time nor the funds really. That, and I'm sure I have way more confidence in my driving ability than I actually possess :) . I have thought about getting into karting (for fun, not thinking of turning racing into a profession by any means), or autocrossing, or some other such racing in the next couple couple years.

                For now though, I just get my fix with simracing. rFactor, GTR series, and now that we've talked about rallying, I
                • Dude, at heart, I'm a video gaming geek who happened to stumble into racing. After the Army and grad school, I ended up working for the better part of the last decade working for a bunch of NGOs, mostly in Africa.

                  Years ago, I was in Uganda and it turned out that the guy (importer/refurbisher/mechanic) from whom I was buying and renting cars and drivers was this big East African rally legend, who'd won the Pearl and placed in the Safari. We got along really well and we got drunk and chased women together.

        • I've done this myself. I live in northern California and race motorcycles at the amateur level as a member of the American Federation of Motorcycles (AFM.)

          This is my novice season and prior to racing this year, my only track experience was up at Thunder Hill, in Willows CA. The AFM also races at Buttonwillow, and has three events at Sears Point (Infineon) raceway near Napa, California. Sears Point Raceway is featured in a number of games, including Tourist Trophy for the PS2.

          My experience is that practicing

    • Something like the DARPA Grand Challange?

    • by Sp1n3rGy ( 69101 )

      What if the cars drove themselves too?!?! []

      Ohh wait! They've been doing that for years!

    • The inherent physical danger and risk is what makes it a sport, not just the competition. Once the drivers are out of the vehicles, they're no longer sportsmen, they're just controllers. In the military, there's a reason that guys who physically face the enemy are given more due than those who don't, the latter category which includes UCAV controllers.

      Back to motor racing, that part of the human brain which tells the average Joe to slow down before he gets himself killed is the part that keeps even the mo

    • You mean like radio controlled cars, or something?

    • by KDR_11k ( 778916 )

      When you're doing that you can just as well remove the vehicle and make it entirely a videogame. At least that saves a ton of money and resources from not having to build the tracks and machines and whatnot.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    pushing the limited limits in a sports that has very sharp limits defined by a federation. a lot of fuss over huge bullshit. when someone broke a world record or even attempted a trial back in 1930s, it was a real deal, real thrill, real news. they could push the limits. now, it is a huge charade which is built on marketing and illusions.
  • Yet Sauber still can't win a race.
  • Considering the risk to the humans involved building these race cars with robotic drivers functions might make for an interesting and even higher speed race.

  • Spa Francorchamps, e.g. []

    Saw the race last year. Simply awesome.

    • Nah, the Nordschleife, by far, is the best track in the history of racing.

      Spa is a great modern track (even though the old version is better).

      • by mihalis ( 28146 )

        Yeah, ok maybe, but the Nordschleife is NOT an "F1 Track" - not any more. I was thinking of "tracks you can go to to see a race".

        After all, tracks they used to run on includes all kinds of weird and wonderful places. If they still did Watkins Glen I'd probably go see that too.

        • I thought they dropped SPA, but I guess it is back. That is a good thing, since it is one of the only circuits left with any history to it.

          • by mihalis ( 28146 )

            I think it was out in 2008, but we went last year, and if I had the money I'd go again this year. Awesome venue for F1.

  • Countless (Score:5, Funny)

    by verloren ( 523497 ) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @12:23AM (#32706880)

    "back at their home bases, perhaps thousands of miles away, countless more engineers work (with the help of gobs of computing power) to give each team that extra edge."

    Maybe they could use some of that computing power to count the engineers, if only for payroll purposes.

  • Looks like someone just (finally?) stumbled onto Speed TV - where they talk about this and other aspects of the remote engineering every week... Tivo it, it's actually pretty cool stuff!

To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire