Oct 20, 2017
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In a word, what is Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport? Efficient. In two words? Brutally efficient. Since coming out of its 55-year hiatus from F1 in 2010, the Mercedes factory race team has consistently contested the Formula 1 Championship, piling up podium finishes since 2012, and winning the drivers’ and constructors’ championships in 2014, 2015, and 2016. And at the time of this writing, they’re gunning for the 2017 constructors’ title. This weekend, Mercedes-AMG will display its brutal efficiency at the United States Grand Prix held at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA).
In its relentless effort to be more efficient, more effective, and more successful on track, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport team has extended its partnership with Qualcomm Technologies (QTI) to develop and test integrated wireless technologies in the team’s race cars. The extension is a perfect opportunity for QTI to continue creating and refining safe, intelligent, and connected automobile experiences that will be tested in motorsport and eventually trickle down to commercial vehicles.
On-going Wi-Fi development
One collaborative experiment that has proven valuable and has been in the works since 2014, is the use of Wi-Fi to download critical tire data from sensors on the race cars to race engineers in the pits. That was using 802.11ac Wi-Fi over a 5 GHz band. Most recently, the system was credited for helping the team rebound from a poor showing at this year’s Monaco Grand Prix due to tire issues, to a one-two finish just two weeks later in Canada.
Now the team is testing 802.11ad Wi-Fi over a 60 GHz band during practice sessions at specific events, including this weekend’s battle at COTA. The plan is to use 5 GHz technology as soon as the Mercedes race cars pull into pit lane. Within 15 meters of the team’s pit, the system seamlessly switches to the 60 GHz technology, thereby increasing the speed and amount of data transferred in those precious seconds.
Utilizing the 60 GHz band, the team has been able to show real-world throughputs of 1.5 Gbps, which is 3.5x faster than performance results previously achieved with the 5 GHz solution used prior. In addition, lab testing using both 5 GHz and 60 GHz simultaneously indicates that throughputs close to 2 Gbps could be achieved, resulting in 4-5x improvement in speed from the 5 GHz implementation.
Work in spectrum bands above 24 GHz, such as 60 GHz, is critical to the development of 5G cellular technologies, so this testing not only serves Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport, but also Qualcomm Technologies in its industry-leading efforts to bring 5G to life.
Check out this video for a simple overview of how the system works:
Wireless charging coming soon
In addition to the Wi-Fi system, Qualcomm Technologies and Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport plan to soon test a Qualcomm WiPower interface that can transfer power wirelessly to on-board sensors and provide an unspecified amount of data transfer. The initial goal of the test is to power sensors in areas previously difficult to reach with cables as well as retrieve data from those sensors. For other sensors currently on the race cars, WiPower will improve efficiency and reduce clutter in the pits/garage by eliminating connectors and associated plug-in cables that must be frequently plugged in and then unplugged.
How it all affects your ride
So what does this mean to the average consumer? What many people do not realize is that auto racing is the test bed for tomorrow’s consumer car technology. Past examples include disc brakes, suspension, DSG gearboxes, tire rubber compounds, turbochargers, push-button starters… even rearview mirrors. What Qualcomm Technologies and Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport uncover with wireless technologies in race cars may one day be applied to the connected commercial cars you and I will drive or ride in soon, making whatever we do more efficient. Brutally efficient.
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