SDN on the race track at the US Grand Prix – a milestone for telemetry and driverless cars

At Zeetta Networks, we are driven towards making complex, demanding operational networks easier to own with software defined technology, and the US Grand Prix marked a first for real-world SDN deployment in cars: Formula 1 Team McLaren-Honda hit the race tracks with SDN at the wheel.

McLaren-Honda partnered with NTT Communications Corp to provide WAN and NFV services to deliver second by second data reports, geared towards increasing lap times. At Zeetta Networks we are immersed in the role SDN will have in the advancement of automated vehicles, set to play a key part in the industry’s current development of driverless cars. This example of SDN technology in the driver’s seat of a Formula 1 race car represents the tip of the iceberg for telemetry and future real-world SDN deployment in cars.

In the McLaren-Honda race car, the SDN technology provides the capacity to handle a huge quantity of dynamic data at speed, transmitting analysis on the weather, parts of the car, fuel levels, suspension and more. This data is collect from hundreds of sensors and cameras simultaneously.

With this data centralised under one remote network controller, the team can make adjustments in near real-time as the car is on the race track: from schematic to new parts made on the spot, all the time advancing racing strategy.

But what does this mean for real-world use? What happens when this technology bleeds down into more generalised automation, driverless cars, and automated cities?

We have already seen advances pioneered in F1 now normalised for vehicles currently on the road, such as the anti-skid braking system and engine technology leading to improvements in fuel efficiency.

The race to develop first-to-market driverless vehicles is escalating, with big names like GM, Ford and BMW, leading the way. SDN platforms like our NetOS® solution are set to be at the heart of enabling this technology to be roadworthy. We are at the centre of this advancement, and are currently working with Bristol University to develop SDN technology for use in driverless cars via telemetry.

Nick Randall, our Sales and Marketing Director, comments:

“This news does not come as a surprise, since the scope for SDN real-world deployment as a solution for complex, dynamic, and heavy data networks is manifold and constantly evolving. From managing the intricate operations of a Formula 1 race car to hosting the operational network variables of the entire race track venue, we at Zeetta Networks are ready to advance smart infrastructure in this area of automation. Let’s hope at least it will be years before the role of the driver becomes obsolete, so we can continue to enjoy Formula 1!”

The uses of SDN in automated technology in the car industry is only just being commercially recognised, and Formula 1 is just the beginning for platforms like NetOS® being used as a technology for SDN real-world deployment in the advancement towards automated vehicles and cities.