Auto motor sport

Race Control Systems

Our company has been developing and installing race control systems for international car and motor racing circuits for more than 15 years.

Race Control

Our company has been developing, installing and maintaining computerized race control systems for more than 15 years even for F1 hosting circuits like Hungaroring. On one hand the system covers the complete race control video system including the camera control and the fully digital video recording, retrieving and editing functions. The other part of the system includes the complete computerized start light and pit exit light management functions according to the FIA standards. Moreover, it displays the standard GPS-based system time and race control information in the RC room and on external displays around the track.

The system takes the form of a network of control computers and a set of specific hardware and software elements designed for the race control management. All of the functions can be controlled either from within the RC room (highest priority) and from other specific locations like the steward room, starting marshal post, pit lane exit etc.

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The first version of the race control video system calledRingView was installed in 2003 on the Hungaroring and has been flawlessly operating until 2008. In this year right before the F1 Hungarian GP the more advanced version of the system called RingView2 was installed along with the brand new start and pit lane exit lights control system called LightMan. Since then these new systems have been supporting the problem-free arrangement of different racing events and the daily routine at the Hungaroring circuit.

Also in the year of 2008 the management of the new Slovakian circuit under construction contacted us for the delivery of our systems for SlovakiaRing. After a series of negotiations the contract had been signed in the middle of 2009 and the race control system was delivered and installed by the time of the opening of the circuit on October 1, 2009. In the last year during the first racing season of the SlovakiaRing circuit the system proved again its usefulness both for larger racing events and for the daily practice of a circuit.

It is very important to note that one of the main design goals for the system was the complete scalability in terms of both technology and prices which means that our solutions can be useful for both large and smaller circuits.

The RingView2 system is an integrated race control video system consisting of the following basic building elements:

  • Set of race control cameras (fix or speedDome) – at present max. 32 cams,
  • Necessary optical fibres for video and data communication,
  • Monitor wall for the control monitors - at present max. 32 monitors,
  • Auxiliary monitors for camera control, digital video replay, timing data etc.,
  • A specific keyboard and joystick for camera selection and control,
  • Set of networked computers and specific hardware elements,
  • High quality digital video recording units - at present max. 32 channels,
  • Information and video distribution among the race control and the stewards via intranet,
  • GPS based timing and synchronization,
  • Display of the track layout and the actual track status (flags, race control lights etc.),
  • Race administration tools.

Immediate event detection

Nowadays the supervision, control and documentation of the events of a racing track is significantly easier by using a race control video system like RingView2. One of the main advantages of these systems is the possibility of the full visual control of the circuit and the immediate detection of any event that risks the safety of the the drivers, personnel or visitors not only on the track but all over the circuit (boxes, pit lane, paddock etc.).

Scalability

Most of the existing race control video systems are „wired in” and cannot be adopted to another circuit. The RingView2 system, however, can easily be tailored to tracks of different size and facilities and can be downsized even for smaller circuits.

Visual documentation

Of course, not only the direct video control but the detailed video documentation of each racing event is very important for the race directors, stewards and for the circuit management. The analysis of the recorded material may later help to overview the disputable situations and clarify the responsibilities. This way the further undue investigations on the responsibility of the race control personnel or the circuit management can be avoided.

Furthermore, the analisys of the accident videos can help to reveal the problematic sections of the track and allows to improve safety.

Save time and investment

Scalability is ensured via the high-level modularity of the system meaning that any concrete installation can be put together from a set of basic building blocks, so no time-consuming development process required. Furthermore, this philosophy makes a kind of step-by-step race control system development possible, that is, no elements earlier installed should be thrown away when new modules are to be included. This shortens the time of delivery and saves earlier investments of the track owners.

Good price/performance ratio

Quality at an affordable pricethat’s our policy. This means that the price differences between larger and smaller circuits are due to quantity and not to quality.

By quantity here we mean the number of cameras, the length of the optical fibres, number of channels to be digitally recorded, the required storage capacity, the number of control and auxiliary monitors etc.

So you can share the race control quality of a F1 hosting circuit like Hungaroring even if you are a smaller one.

The RingView2 system – how to use it?

The main function of the RingView2 isto ensure that no event on the track avoid the attention of the race management – especially that of the race director.

This is achieved via the optimal positioning of the race control cameras around the track based on the twenty-years experience of our FIA expert advisor. In this way any object on the track – moving or stopped alike – can be observed on at least one of the control monitors in the Race Control Room (RCR).

The applied high-speed dome cameras allow the race director to immediately react to and zoom on any event for having very detailed visual info on the situation in question.

Typical „danger zones” of the track can be pre-programmed using the preset functions of the cameras and this way the required visual info can be displayed in a second via a single click.

The incoming live video from the race cameras are displayed on a monitor wall including 32 LCD screens at a maximum (apart from the aux monitors, see later).

 

As to the cameras applied in our race control system we generally use Panasonic, Merit-lilin or Pelco speed dome cameras with a typical resolution of 540 lines (570 in B/W mode) and 25x optical zoom. In some cases part of the cameras are fixed ones but generally all cameras are speed domes with a set of preset positions.

Of course any other type of cameras can be used assuming that the camera control protocol is available.

Since our basic philosophy is that no hidden points can be allowed on the track each camera is displayed on one monitor in the video wall. A specific control board is used to select the camera to actually be controlled by the operator. The movement, zoom, focus, stepping etc. of the controlled camera can be done via a multifunctional joystick.

It was an important design issue that the operator be able to perform all camera control activities with one single hand – since the other one usually holds the radio for communicating the marshals or handles the light system– especially in case of hazardous situations.

The other important feature of the RingView2 is the fully computerized 32 channel digital video recording and retrieval system using the highest resulotion SD video (720x576 PAL) at 25 fps.

The recorded video can be reached via a sophisticated software system allowing a detailed analysis of the events on the track.

 

Video retrieval can not only be done on the basis of time and camera number but via a set of predefined event names associated to a specific video clip. For instance you can look for video clips associated with double yellow flag sign events at a specific marshal post etc.

The video and other info can be distributed over a computer network among the RC, steward room, boxes, press etc.

Beside the screens of the monitor wall the RingView2 system involves four large LCD screens as auxiliary monitors displaying the following items:

  • the live video from selected race camera just controlled by the operator,
  • fullscreen replay of a previously recorded digital video clip,
  • graphical display of the track layout with camera and marshal post positions plus GPS based system time,
  • time measurement display.

Each of the functions above can be reached through the central graphical computer screen of the RingView2 system as displayed below.

 

The recording of the video channels is made in full-triplex way, that is, any video channel is displayed on the monitor wall, recorded and can be replayed simultaneously. This means that any event recognized on the monitor wall by the observer can immediately be replayed and analyzed while the recording is uninterruptedly going on.

This feature helps the race management and the stewards making the necessary „on the fly” decisions influencing the course of the race (for instance drive-through penalties etc.) immediately after the video analysis of the event in question.

Two other important features of the RingView2 system are the event-based video database and the report making facility which both help the detailed post analysis of the race and the preparation of a final event report about the whole race.

The default report language is English, but other language options are also available on request.

 

LightMan

LightMan is a microcomputer-based system controlling the start lights and pit exit lights from the RC room as well as from specific posts like the Starting Marshal Post at the start grid (usually called „Podium”) and the post(s) at the pit lane exit(s). The system is able to handle both unidirectional and bidirectional tracks and, of course, applicable both for auto and motor racing tracks.

The LightMan system consists of the following building parts:

  • Start light (front and rear side)
  • Pit exit light(s)
  • Operating unit in the RC room and at the Podium
  • Operating unit(s) at the pit exit post(s)
  • Control electronics and software built in IP65 boxes located on the pit wall
  • Cabling

The start lights are composed of 4x5 individual LED lamps arranged in five colums with four lamps in each column.

The high brightness LED illumination lamps we use for the lights ensure the perfect visibility from more than half a mile even in bright sunshine.

At the rear side of the start lamp the repeater lights can be installed in different ways according to the needs of the of the track owner - from the simple repeated red lights to the complete duplicate of the front side lights.

The RC room operating unit is the central device by which the race director can manage all of the events on the track depending on the state of the start and pit exit lights. The scale of the events extends from the „red flag” situations when all lights must be switched to red up to the initiation of different starting sequences depending on the race type.

Each function can be activated via simply pushing a button while two-state switches are used to change between the operational modes of the unit (for instance race/practice). For switching the lights on/off high-quality long lifetime LED illuminated buttons (indicating the color of the light switched) are used.

As to the starting procedure different starting sequencies can pre-programmed according to the needs of the different race types. The default one is that of used by FIA/F1 for starting the F1 races.

The operational units used at the Podium (or other places if required) are the same as used in the RC room, but by default they all have lower priority then that of the unit in the RC room.This means that the decisions of the RC room overrides those of the Podium.

This, of course, also concerns to the pit exit unit (see below), since the pit exit light can also be controlled from the RC room.

All the intelligence are built into the microcomputer supported electronics located in Control Boxes having IP65 protection near to the start line and to the pit exit(s). All the units communicate over an RS485 bus so the distance makes no problem and the cabling is also very simple.

The pit exit light (or lights in case of bidirectional lanes) can be controlled not only from within the RC room but from the pit exit marshal post(s), too.

Since the unit is used outside and near to the pit exit it has an extremely robust metal housing with IP65 protection to resist not only the environmental effects but the potential mechanical impacts, too.

All functions of the pit exit lights can be activated from this unit but it is important to note that these commands can be overridden by those from the RC room.

The start lights are composed of 4x5 individual LED lamps arranged in five colums with four lamps in each column.

The high brightness LED illumination lamps we use for the lights ensure the perfect visibility from more than half a mile even in bright sunshine.

At the rear side of the start lamp the repeater lights can be installed in different ways according to the needs of the of the track owner - from the simple repeated red lights to the complete duplicate of the front side lights.

The RC room operating unit is the central device by which the race director can manage all of the events on the track depending on the state of the start and pit exit lights. The scale of the events extends from the „red flag” situations when all lights must be switched to red up to the initiation of different starting sequences depending on the race type.

Each function can be activated via simply pushing a button while two-state switches are used to change between the operational modes of the unit (for instance race/practice). For switching the lights on/off high-quality long lifetime LED illuminated buttons (indicating the color of the light switched) are used.

The system above is completed with a large LED display right beside the start lamps to show the time, the track temperature, the „Time to go” and „Laps to go” information.The time value is set via GPS and the temperature is continously measured by the track. The system is managed from the race control via the control board

stopper timer vezerlopult

The Stopper/Lap counter control board

 

Summary

In the above we briefly introduced our systems developed for auto and motor racing circuits intending to improve the safety and race management quality on their tracks. Both our race control video system RingView2 and the start and pit exit lights management system LightMan are not only the result of many years of development but they have many successful years of operation on different circuits, too.

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A Cognitech Intelligens Technológiák Kft az 1990-es alapítású Cognitech Informatikai Kft., utódcége, melyet annak idején a Számalk és az MTA SZTAKI mesterséges intelligencia fejlesztésekkel foglalkozó néhány munkatársa hozott létre dr. Koch Péter, a Számalk Szakértő Rendszerek Kutató Laboratóriuma vezetőjével az élen. Az alapítók között magasan képzett informatikus, villamosmérnök és matematikus munkatársak voltak.

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