The recent success story of McLaren and driver Lewis Hamilton at the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) inaugural Formula 1 GP in Austin Texas, has been facilitated by advanced Race Management Control (RMC) software designed and installed by British company, Sicura Systems Ltd.
Following on from the successful implementation of a Sicura Systems solution earlier in the F1 season for the British 2012 GP at Silverstone, the Vital Technology Group company, Sicura Systems, implemented its DigiLive RMC software which is an advanced IP-based video management system (VMS) which enabled race controllers to process contrasting data types and benefit from optimum information in an inclusive environment.
With a multi-camera synced replay, DigiLive monitored the 44 dedicated track safety cameras which covered every angle of the 3.42 mile track, sending images to the control centre over a dedicated secure network.
Sicura Systems also developed a unique race narrative software programme, MinuteMan, which links all significant events during a race to relevant video footage and broadcasts these clips to the video wall in the race control room. MinuteMan empowers the race controller who is required to monitor multiple radio feeds from marshals. The software allows the controller to report on scenarios such as “car stalled”, “collision”, “car off track,” “car hit barrier”, making rapid selections from menus rather than keying in information. In this way, relevant pop-up displays appear on the race control video wall in a graphical manner and with minimum delay.
Working alongside its sister company Ematics (the SCADA and PLC specialists), Sicura created a bespoke SCADA human-machine interface so that Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) management could receive critical race data from a range of diverse subsystems in an intuitive format. Information provided by Formula One Management (FOM) for teams and venue organisers such as timing gauges, weather bulletins, track condition reports and master television footage was transmitted using DigiSCADA. This new, web-based graphics module is part of the DigiLive suite which monitors a broad array of race-critical sensors and events on the track.
The RMC comprised a Fault Indication System [FIS] and race start light controls designed by Ematics. The FIS comprised a central controller and distributed network of remote processing units which monitored status of essential power supplies and presented meteorological conditions at key locations around the race track. Ematics installed trackside PLC fault indication nodes residing on an IP network at distribution points around the circuit and interfacing to an alarm database enabling remote diagnostics and alarm recording. The system was integrated into the DigiSCADA suite which superimposed data over a map of the track; an intuitive approach enabling race controllers to pinpoint information to the exact locations and rapidly recognise any abnormal conditions that could have had an impact on the safe running of the race.
Sicura’s live dedicated camera feeds were also synchronized with track GPS data overlaid on a map of the COTA. This approach helped race team principals establish the exact locations of their cars during the race and assisted with team strategy.
The versatility of DigiLive allowed the engineers to pull feeds from the race track to the FIA in order to provide GPS location in relation to the video and selected cameras. The full DigiLive suite is being used at the track. This includes recording servers, live IP camera viewing workstations and high-definition IP video walls. There is full audio recording of race sessions for use by marshalls and enhanced video replay with synchronised camera control or synchronized remote replay. DigiLive is providing the FIA with a broad range of VMS functionality including the logging of accidents. The software is also facilitating export of data and footage for use by F1 teams.
Sicura specified and installed all the cameras, opting for IP models with PoE functionality which was more future-proof and had less points of failure. For the FIA, the cameras were connected though media converters and decoded and fed into the FIA’s analogue interface. Sicura’s solution decoded the HD IP camera streams back to analogue BNC.
Harold Trunley, Managing Director of the Vital Technology Group, said: “The combination of HD IP video delivered across the network and IP-to-analogue conversion to meet FIA race control standards made for some unusual hybrid technical requirements.”
He continued: “Creating these multi-discipline VMS and SCADA systems to tight deadlines with the eyes of the motor sport world on us was a demanding assignment. The project met the immediate requirements of the F1 event but it is also scalable and future-proof. Our engineers installed starter panels on the permanent track infrastructure for subsequent use at COTA when it hosts pending events including MotoGP and the American Le Mans Series in 2013.”
Cheered on by his compatriots from Vital, Lewis Hamilton made his winning manoeuvre as he passed the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel on lap 42, with drivers hitting speeds of 200 mph before a full house at the 890-acre site which is the first circuit in the US to be purpose-built for Formula One.
The Vital engineers also witnessed a fantastic drive from McLaren’s other English driver, Jenson Button, who moved through the field from twelfth position on the grid to finish fifth behind Felipe Massa’s Ferrari.