5G helps Indy 500 drivers take corners at breathtaking speeds
Qualifying for, and winning, the Indy 500 is all about nailing corners at speeds up to 230 miles per hour. Team Penske, the winner of last year's Indy 500, is seeking to improve automotive performance this year by leveraging 5G and advanced video analytics to fine-tune the car set-ups and racing lines ahead of qualifying. Their efforts paid off as one of their drivers, Simon Pagenaud, qualified for pole position in the race and then took home the victory.
The Indy 500 is an annual automobile race held in the US during the Memorial Day holiday weekend in late May. The event attracts around 250,000 attendees and is considered one of the most prestigious motorsports events in the world.
During the race, 33 drivers take on the challenge of driving 200 laps around the 2.5 mile speedway. Both the straights and corners are taken at full throttle. Most petrol heads agree that the key to victory lies in using a set up that enables the car to take the straights with as little drag as possible yet gives just enough downforce to handle the corners and not crash. All teams use identical cars and tires so fine tuning plays a key role in squeezing the best performance out of each vehicle. Finding the optimal set up is crucial. Every detail can make a big impact.
During the first day of qualifying this year the difference between the top two drivers, Spencer Pigot and Will Power was just 0.002 mph, which translates into a 1.4 milliseconds difference over the 10 miles (4 laps) qualification distance. With such small margins teams and drivers are always hunting for innovative ways to improve performance.
5G connected cameras and real-time video analysis
Leading up to this year’s race, Team Penske leveraged 5G to analyze the performance of their cars in the corners. Verizon’s 5G network powered by Ericsson was deployed at the race track. Cameras placed on the outside of one corner captured video footage of the team’s cars at very high speed and relayed it in near real-time to the team in the garage for analysis on-site.
This enabled the team to analyze and compare the impact of every change to the car’s performance, as well as its racing line. As a result, downforce and drag could be analyzed in a better way to evaluate how close the car is to losing grip.
5G makes this possible through multiple innovations. High upstream bandwidth enables professional video cameras to capture and send high-quality footage quickly to the racing teams. Very high-quality video makes detailed analysis possible in real-time.
Applicability for other sports and their athletes, teams and fans
5G can play an important role at all sports venues in the future, beyond engaging fans on social media. In some cases, 5G is already demonstrating its potential to enhance sports. [NH3] In the future, 5G will enable more teams and athletes to be connected during training, qualifying sessions, practice rounds and competitions to help optimize performance. Fans will be able to share exceptional experiences with live video streaming on social media. The sports experience can be enhanced by overlaying graphics and statistics in mixed reality applications. I believe 5G will enable many more inventions for racing teams to get them over the starting line.
Drivers, start your engines!
With qualifying done, we were ready for the magic words on Sunday: Drivers, start your engines! The flag dropped and the engines roared as the cars raced around the first lap three-wide. And we knew that our team had turned over every stone to find that extra bit of performance. And all the efforts paid off, with Simon Pagenaud’s victory after an intense battle over the last 10 laps, making back to back victories for Team Penske. Teammates Josef Newgarden and Will Power also finished in the top five, making it three out of five for the 5G powered team!
For another spectactular Indy 500 5G demonstration, check out this blog post and video from 2017 where drivers raced around the track with their windows blacked out!