You can’t hold technology back and with exciting developments afoot in motorsport, who would want to try? Racing technology is always changing and can sometimes be controversial. Race organisers of future motorsports events will have to consider elements such as electric racing, including Formula E, and maybe even driverless car motorsport events. Our understanding of future motorsports will not just be influenced by changes in technology, external pressures such as sustainability concerns and social media influences will also play a part in how future racing pans out. There are interesting times ahead; we consider how future racing in motorsport is rapidly changing.
Formula E and Electric Racing
Not only does electric racing have a key part to play in motorsport, it has already made its first ventures into the public arena. In June 2017, London streets were host to their first Formula E experience following its introduction in Beijing in 2014. The Formula E battery is improving all the time with increases in both battery power and battery life. Currently the Formula E electric races involve a mid race car exchange, because battery life is insufficient but for season 5 McLaren claim the production of a new Formula E battery will see doubled storage capacity and one car races. As big names like Audi, Mercedes and Porsche move over to Formula E, budgets are rising and the future of motorsport is starting to mirror the future of road driving. Pundits are even contemplating an eventual conjunction of F1 and FE. This may be a long way off but electric racing offers exciting opportunities for race tech development, has made a strong start despite challenges and is definitely one of our future motorsports.
Virtual Reality Race Technology
It might seem to some that VR is the complete antithesis of everything that motorsport represents, however, while we are talking about future motorsports, it would be unwise to ignore the potential impact of this step away from noise, dirt and possibly thrill. A recent and very successful Mercedes Bose F1 garage project, in which participants experience the sights and sounds of Lewis Hamilton driving off for practice, has shown that it is possible to deliver thrilling alternatives to track attendance via virtual reality,.
The type of sound driven VR that Bose were keen to create during the project, offers an innovative way of enjoying F1 and demonstrates how suitable an area Formula 1 is for VR development. It isn’t just via consumer race experience that VR is shaking up future motorsports; race technology development has also embraced the virtual world. At Ford’s Immersive Vehicle Environment, designers and engineers work in detail on designs before physical models are even considered. VR allows the team to investigate performance across a variety of parameters and measure the influence of subtle design changes in greatly reduced time and with reduced budgets. In addition to this VR allows design flare to flourish and gives some of the crazy ideas, that might previously have been discarded, the opportunity for trial. Future motorsports might be more virtual and more exciting than we had previously imagined.
Augmented reality, instead of creating an entirely virtual world like VR, focuses on providing some enhancement to existing reality. In terms of future racing and race technology, augmented reality offers possibilities for spectators in the form of enhanced during-race information and drivers in the form of heads up displays (HDUs). We are likely to see future motorsports drivers accessing key information via HUD integrated helmets. The race technology for such helmets would be based on current smart glasses designs but would be required to undergo safety testing before being accepted by the authorities. Lewis Hamilton is a proponent of HUD helmets and suggests that they will help avoid driver information overload.
If the thought of driverless cars on our roads sends shivers down your spine then you might prefer, instead, to get a few shivers of excitement from the concept of driverless motorsport. You might be surprised to hear that in February 2017, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Roborace (yes they are a real company) introduced its ready-to-race robocar. A new worldwide motorsport series is some way off as yet but Roborace make no secret of their ambitions to introduce driverless cars as part of the Formula E scene. As with electric racing, the big hope is that robo racing will encourage the type of technological developments that will eventually appear in road vehicles. What is maybe most interesting about robo car design is that, for future racing, software will be more important than hardware. Coding expertise will be in demand to develop more and more sophisticated algorithms and there are suggestions that, to keep the competition keen, races may feature a series of ‘obstacles’ of a type not yet seen on traditional motorsport tracks.
Future Racing -New Media
Social media isn’t exactly racing technology but there is no doubt that it is going to have a measurable impact on future motorsports. In big budget motorsports, sponsorship is everything and sponsorship interest is directly related to fan engagement. Broadcasters no longer have ultimate control over how or what fans are viewing; the ability to switch from social media to video channel to live streaming and back again has led to a battle for fan interaction. In future racing it won’t just be the technological battle to improve vehicles that will matter, the ways that organisations like Liberty Media use technology to reach out to and hold on to audiences will also play a major part in development.
No matter what the future holds for motorsport, future racing is always going to include an element of risk for drivers, crew and the crowds. As Stirling Moss once famously said,
‘To achieve anything in this game you must be prepared to dabble on the boundary of disaster.’
Medical cover and equipment at motorsport events will continue to be essential to safety. Our team at MDD can offer a wide range of long standing expertise, quality equipment and seasoned advice. Get in touch with our specialist consultation team today to talk about all of your medical and safety equipment needs.
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