Cisco's SD-WAN connects electric race car on the Red Bull track with a driver 43 miles away

A driverless car will do a lap before the races in Spielberg, Austria this weekend.

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A racecar driver will use a network built by the Riedel Group with Cisco components to take the DTM Electric Demo Car around the Red Bull Ring.

Image: Cisco

Race car driver Tim Heinemann is going to take a lap around the Red Bull Ring this weekend in an electric car from 43 miles away. The racetrack is in Spielberg, Austria, but Heinemann will be in a driving simulator in Graz, Austria. 

The DTM Electric Demo Car will hit 124 miles per hour during the Electric Remote Run before the races on Saturday and Sunday, September 4 and 5. Cisco's networking technology will connect the race car and the driver. John Joyal, a Cisco Product Marketing Manager for Enterprise Networking, explained on the Cisco blog the performance demands on the network:

"At this speed, 20 milliseconds of latency in the connection translates to a meter traveled. The round-trip time between the simulator driver in Graz and the car on the Red Bull Ring track is only 2ms for the WAN and about 5ms for the radio network. That's very close to the speed of light."

Riedel Communications built the network for the race track and used Cisco's Software-defined Wide Area Network and Catalyst 8300 Edge platform for the primary connection, which runs over direct fiber over an MPLS link. Cisco's Catalyst Cellular Gateways provides a backup connection in case the MPLS link goes down.  

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The Riedel Network supports the remote steering link and video feeds from the car to the driver and from the driver to the pitman at the racetrack. The network also carries intercom communications.

Michael Resl, director of competition and technology at DTM, said in a press release that the project was conceived of and turned into reality in five months, due in part to the number of partners supporting the project. In addition to Riedel and Cisco, Schaeffler led project management and remote operation. 

Resl said during a conversation about the remote run that the event brings autonomous driving elements to racing to improve safety and monitoring. He said that another option in the future would be to run the safety car remotely during races.

During the same conversation, Daniel Kohl of Schaeffler said that although remote control is not a new skill, remote control at high speed is. The car will reach about 124 miles per hour.

"We have completely new challenges in terms of latency of the entire system and the feedback we give to the driver and the quality of the video stream we generate," Kohl said. "Integrating all those systems into the car and getting it running was one hell of a job."

The car is part of DTM's plan for a fully electrified race series–its first run was almost a year ago. 

Benedikt Böhme, managing director at DTM, said in a press release that the remote run shows elements that could be used in the future in a new, global, electrified race series.

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By Veronica Combs

Veronica Combs is a senior writer at TechRepublic. For more than 10 years, she has covered technology, healthcare, and business strategy. In addition to her writing and editing expertise, she has managed small and large teams at startups and establis...