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IndyCar Teams Look for Electronic Edge

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Beth Stackpole
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It's the data that is giving an edge
Beth Stackpole   6/7/2012 8:50:38 AM
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It's amazing how staffed these teams are from an engineering standpoint, yet how seemingly constrained they are in doing of doing any hands-on engineering work. Chuck, you say much of the engineering team's time is spent sifting through sensor data to zero in on slight modifications that could deliver an edge. I'm curious--is this a manual process of drilling down into raw data or, as I would think, are they employing data analytics tools to find patterns and uncover insights that a plain old human might not see initially?

Charles Murray
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Re: It's the data that is giving an edge
Charles Murray   6/7/2012 6:39:29 PM
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I may be stretching a bit to answer this question, Beth, but I believe it's both. Some of the data has to be analyzed in real time, which, of course, makes it difficult to use data tools. For the data that's analyzed after the fact, however, they're using software tools, I believe.

warren@fourward.com
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Platinum
Indy electronics
warren@fourward.com   6/8/2012 9:49:48 AM
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It would be really interesting to see how a bug or virus into the indy car fleet would really make the race interesting.  It would be a race to see who could hobble to the finish line first.

I don't trust the kids writing software in such environments.  There is too much temptation to play pranks.  I know I would have had a hard time not adding a subroutine that would cause them all to "crash," not wreck, of course, just to make my mark on the race.  But I wonder...

RICKZ28
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Platinum
Team Engineers
RICKZ28   6/8/2012 12:11:40 PM
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It's nice to read about the engineers the IndyCar teams employ.  I count 12 engineers listed in the paragraph.  (KV has two electronics engineers, two data acquisition engineers, and a radio engineer. Those five are joined by two mechanical engineers, two simulation engineers, a vehicle dynamics engineer, an aerodynamics engineer, and a parts design engineer who also doubles as a draftsman.)

Our design engineer also doubles as a draftsman, generates 2D drawings that are still needed, from the 3D SolidWorks models.  I gotta think the IndyCar race teams are also using 3D modeling programs such as SolidWorks or ProEngineer.  Using such programs will enable much easier multi-physics engineering of the designs, such as FEA.

I guess the 12 engineers working for KV Racing are involved with all three of KV Racing teams..for drivers Tony Kanaan, Rubens Barrichello, and EJ Viso.  I'm sure each of the three race teams has a very knowledgeable and experienced crew chief (engineer) to direct and coordinate the effort for his car/driver.

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: Team Engineers
Charles Murray   6/8/2012 5:37:28 PM
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You're correct, RickZ28, there are 12 engineers on the KV Racing team. Between the electronics, aerodynamics, data acquisition, vehicle dynamics and mechanical cocerns, they must be working a tremendous amount of overtime this time of year. To me, 12 engineers sounds like a skimpy team, considering the workload. But I'm sure that a lot of our readers would still love to switch places with them.

Charles Murray
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Re: Indy electronics
Charles Murray   6/8/2012 5:38:41 PM
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Sounds like you've stumbled across a great idea for a movie script, Warren.

mrdon
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Gold
Electronics is Key to Indy Cars
mrdon   6/10/2012 12:42:12 AM
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It's good hear to that software is not the technical edge in racing but the actual electronics hardware and the driver's own skills. I'm glad the Indy Car organization has made racing teams play on an even field by allowing a 3rd party supplier to program the ECU's with the same engine performance profiles.

Jack Rupert, PE
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Platinum
Re: Team Engineers
Jack Rupert, PE   6/17/2012 2:21:06 PM
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It would be really interesting if those engineers would be allowed to do some real engineering for race-day.  See what sort of surprises they could come up with if the need to have identical designs was removed.

RICKZ28
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Platinum
Re: Team Engineers
RICKZ28   6/19/2012 3:01:48 PM
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The real engineering for race day is the car handling, as well as no mechanical/electrical problems.  If every car did equally well, then every driver/car would be on the lead lap on the final lap, dueling side-by-side to win the race (assuming each driver has equal talent and ability).  Many of the crashes are due to ill handling cars, not necessarily driver mistakes.

Having good car handling during one part of the race, does not mean good car handling during the entire race.  Race conditions constantly change, requiring adjustments to maintain the car handling and manage tire wear.

I see a lot of room for improvement with the race car engineering despite the rules for seemingly identical equipment.

The race car engineering will never be as "sexy" or exciting as the attention the race car drivers receive.

 

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