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F1 Simulators Revealed 72

An anonymous reader writes "Racecar Engineering has posted an exclusive look inside the simulator of a leading grand prix team. Particularly interesting is that the Formula 1 team uses software based on the free simulator Racer (with source code available) albeit with a custom vehicle model and hardware interface via CAN-bus. The article highlights the importance that mainstream racing sims (rFactor, iRacing) have in simulation at the pinnacle of the worlds most advanced sport." Along similar lines, reader PatPending writes "Engineers at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Germany (surely the greatest of all institutes) have turned a massive robot arm into a Ferrari F1 simulator, discovering a new strain of awesome in the process. The contraption, known as the CyberMotion Simulator, consists of an industrial robotic arm fitted with a racing seat, a force feedback steering wheel and a 3D simulation of the Monza Formula 1 track beamed from a projector on to a curved display."
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F1 Simulators Revealed

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  • But F1? (Score:1, Funny)

    by Pikoro ( 844299 )
    I thought F1 was the help key? I guess people in simulators need help too.
  • J98 (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jarryd98 ( 1677746 ) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @08:32AM (#33256326)
    Most of the industry is using rF Pro. Despite the constant negativity around the tyre/aero maps with the baseline version of rFactor, I've always been of the opinion that rF is the most scalable sim around. Nice to see RaceCarEngineering get a plug, also. Those guys do good work.
    • Many military simulators have X-Plane code at their heart, so why not racing?

  • oops. (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by olsmeister ( 1488789 )
    Posting to remove an accidental mod.
  • Not the first (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hcdejong ( 561314 ) <hobbes&xmsnet,nl> on Sunday August 15, 2010 @08:59AM (#33256396)

    The CyberMotion Simulator isn't the first to use an industrial robot as the motion platform for a game. When I visited Legoland (Billund) in 2004, they had several robots set up as a thrillride, with the robot going through a user-programmable motion pattern.

  • response time? (Score:5, Informative)

    by IWannaBeAnAC ( 653701 ) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @09:09AM (#33256424)

    there appears to be some delay between the movements on the steering wheel and the sudden, mechanised lurches of the robot arm. This is particularly noticeable at 00:51 into the video, where the driver veers left then right, only for his movements to be mimicked by the arm approximately a second later.

    I'm not sure that is true. At the incident at 00:51, the arm is moving to the left of picture, and then suddenly starts moving to the right. It is the acceleration that counts, not the position or speed. The sudden acceleration from moving left to moving right appears to happen right on the moment the driver turns the wheel; the fact that it takes the arm some time to move to the right of picture is irrelevant.

    • It's all about vectors, not positions. The sim. looked fine to me.

      • Do you even know what vectors are?

        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Maybe Clarence didn't have clearance to find out what's his vector, victor?

  • by NekSnappa ( 803141 ) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @09:14AM (#33256434)

    In another iteration of the company I work for (we've had a few mergers), one of the divisions ran a centrifuge for human factors research on pilots. Then someone had the bright idea to turn the technology, and software into an amusement park ride.

    It had an enclosed gondola with six axis movement and a display inside to show the environment that was being simulated. The arm spun at a constant rate, and with the gondola at a certain angle it could trick the inner ear to think you were sitting still while you were turning. And then by changing the the angle of the gondola in relation to the centrifugal force vector it could give the sensation of roll, pitch and yaw.

    Although the tech was cool, and some parks showed some interest. It never went anywhere because they couldn't figure out a way to get the throughput that the park operators where looking for.

    Sounds like that system would be the best of both methods mentioned in the summary.

    • It never went anywhere because they couldn't figure out a way to get the throughput that the park operators where looking for.

      Someone needs to go on the Mars simulator ride at Epcot... it's *precisely* this technology. Pretty cool, too.


      • Wasn't aware that Disney had installed that. Since the company that they had build it for them is based in Pa. It could be the folks we were partnered with on the human factors stuff, as the Navy centrifuge the original work was done was there. My employer sold off the rights during one of the aforementioned mergers to get back to core competencies.
  • Forget the simulator part! Give me an office chair strapped to the robot arm...Imagine delivering those TPS reports without getting up!
  • ah the memories! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    of a dorky kid aged 16 who in 1969 had a 'flight' in the rear seat of an RAF Phantom F4 Simulator on his first day at work.

    Maybe that inspired me to get a degree in Control Systems Engineering and get involved with real Aircraft Avionic Systems design ever since?

    Back on topic.
    The Motion system used in the car simulator is clearly based upon the '6-axis' Link Miles design of the early 1970's and adopted by most European Flight Simulator makers since (Redifon, Thales etc)

  • Was a few years back, and involved you getting into an accident and having the car fly up off the track, and pirouette in the air fr 15 minutes as it fell through the scenery and everything spun around you....hopefully it's been much improved since then.
  • The engineers at the Max Planck Institute suck at driving.

    It would only be an accurate simulation of an F1 car if there were slow, single gear F1 cars.

  • by ed ( 79221 ) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @10:00AM (#33256600) Homepage

    David Coultard was about to race at Monaco, but he had never raced there before, so he fired up the Microprose F1 Grand Prix to get used to the course, and won it too!

    • by DSmith1974 ( 987812 ) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @10:51AM (#33256790)
      Ok, but that's just to familiarize himself with the course - any game will do. F1 teams have now developed plug-ins for rFactor which are so true to life that the drivers are able to give feedback to the designers on new components, suspension and set-up before investing millions in actually making the things and flying them out to Spain or wherever to try them out on a race track for real. Combine this with the GIS data collected from the laser trucks and the simulator knows about every single bump and groove on the track down to the nearest milli-meter. It's really quite amazing - and keeps a fair few Phd boffins employed in interesting jobs for each of the big teams.
    • I remember playing that game ages ago. The manual said that it was what Damon Hill used to prepare for all his races. Back when I was that young I used to believe it: it was so realistic to me...

      Now I'm not so sure. On a side note, when you registered the game, they sent you what they said were Damon Hill's set ups for all the courses, but when we tried them out they were actually rubbish! I still have a concern that I just completely missed the point of how to drive that game, and that the set ups were act

  • Open Source? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Slashdot using the OSI logo as their topic icon for a project which, on it's license page, states an awful lot of confused ideas about what open source might mean, seems a little odd, not to mention the whole not being released under an OSI recognised open source license thing. If people are going to write custom licenses i do wish they'd put some effort into it.

    • by f0d ( 528420 )
      Indeed. Racer is not Open Source - they just publish the source code to their software under copyright. And good on them.
  • by DaveGod ( 703167 ) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @10:33AM (#33256708)

    I'm surprised to learn that occasionally, even during grand prix weekends, they continue to use a test driver in the simulator and feed information back to the team trackside.

    I'm not. Not at all.

    The high reliance on simulators is not necessarily because it is in any way better than physical testing. The FIA now severely limit [] the amount of physical testing that can be done.

    It's now regular for a team to receive updated parts mid week straight from the factory and the first real-world testing is the Friday practice session, the day before qualifying. This Friday is effectively the only testing day, since the car you complete your time in during qualifying is literally put in a bag and only opened shortly before the race. This is also why drivers who for whatever reason have no chance of gaining anything from finishing a race do so anyway; they use it as free testing time.

    • I've often thought that the stupid rules imposed by the FIA contributed to deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenburger. It's sad to see that 16 years later they are still making senseless rulings.

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Its not senseless, its an effort to reduce annual F1 budgets by $100 million per year per team.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Phydaux ( 1135819 )

        No one has died in F1 since Senna. I think their rules changes have probably helped.

  • What brings a package like Racer to a level usable by F1 teams is not so much the software itself (even though the openness of it helps), but the data that it is being fed by the team and their suppliers (e.g. performance and feedback data from the car, professional track scans, etc.).

    Since the casual user does NOT have access to these data set, all they're left with is the "empty sheet of paper", on which they can paint their own fantasies, but, just because they're using the same "paper" as a race team,
  • Ironic that this comes up on Slashdot at the same time that I learned about a Canadian company opening up with a hexatech simulator - Technologies ERS []. Apologies for the site being in french - they're based in Quebec. Still, it's a damn cool machine.

No extensible language will be universal. -- T. Cheatham