Motorsports is speeding the way to safer urban mobility 

A novel Siemens partnership will apply the advanced automated and connected vehicle technologies to boost safety – first in motorsports and eventually in urban environments. The partnership brings together Siemens, with its broad, chip-to-city transportation technology portfolio, and the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the world leader in the most advanced forms of motorsports.

The World Rally Championship is a fast, exciting and spectacular event, but it can also be dangerous, even for spectators. Some people risk their lives for a perfect photo or the perfect view. Spectators often cross barriers or suddenly jump out of scrubs just to take the ultimate photo of a passing Rally car – risking their own life and potentially endangering fellow-spectators, drivers and co-drivers.

Last year more than four million spectators attended Rally events, which take place on stages that can stretch across more than 25 kilometers. This can make it difficult for race organizers to monitor an entire stage, which are often on relatively narrow dirt and gravel roads that cut through diverse terrain, further hampering efforts of marshals or spotters to watch for fans who may be in harm’s way.

Marshalling remote areas

Much work goes into preparation of each Rally event to ensure that spectators watch from safe spectator areas. A pre-Rally shakedown run is even conducted to police spectators that are told sternly to get out of unsafe areas. Despite the best efforts of Rally organizers, “anomalous spectators” still end up in dangerous locations. For instance, in remote areas a photographer may hide in tall grass until a rally car comes by just to pop up at the last minute to get that perfect photo. These difficult-to-marshal areas can cover a substantial portion of many Rally stages.

Rally organizers want the ability to quickly detect people in these unsafe areas. They need a solution that provides complete situational awareness of spectator location and flow in order to ensure that all spectators can safely enjoy an event.

Making Rally safer

The partnership will explore how a combination of automated and connected vehicle technologies from Siemens Intelligent Traffic SystemsSiemens PLM Software and Bentley Systems can be used to make Rally safer. Although the use of connected and automated vehicle technologies similar to those applied today in various autonomous vehicle programs will be explored, the goal is not to make Rally cars autonomous, but rather to use automated technologies in the challenging environments of motorsports to make human drivers and spectators safer.

AI and automation: Two technology paradigms

Those working on AI and automation talk about two technology paradigms that have informed the field for decades – one that augments the human experience and one that replaces humans. This project is the former as racing is likely to human-centered for decades to come. Eventually what is learned will be applied to improve driver and pedestrian safety in urban and rural environments.

Advanced technologies such as 3D modeling

The FIA and Siemens engineering teams will explore use of many advanced methodologies such as: advanced sensor fusion; AI image classification; connected vehicle technology; extensive 3D modeling and pre-race simulation of vehicles; sensor networks – in the challenging environment of motorsports. The Rally stages present several extreme edge cases such as rough terrain, low visibility, high vibration and incident frequency that together will help to accelerate and harden the technologies used in the project.

Digital twin of the Rally

The first project step in solving this problem is create a 3D model or digital twin of select Rally stages. Next, engineers from Siemens and FIA will evaluate solution concepts in scenarios developed using advanced 3D simulation of vehicle and trackside sensor-based systems. The end goal of this initial phase is to identify the best concepts to take to the next phase – developing and testing safety systems in the real world, including in cities.

From racing to everyday driving

Racing has long been a place to prove ground-breaking automotive technologies – from the rear-view mirror in 1911 to disc brakes to safety cages. In this way, the FIA seeks to not only promote motor sport, but also safe, sustainable and accessible mobility for all road users across the world. The FIA-Siemens partnership is a great example of how racing can be utilized together with the most advanced automotive technologies, from Siemens and Bentley, to speed the way to safer urban mobility.

“In the age of increasingly automated vehicles, racing will be an essential testbed for the automotive industry, which needs the widest array of data and the most challenging environments to continue to build and train advanced autonomous, connected and electric automotive technologies," says Edward Bernardon, Vice President Strategic Automotive Initiatives at Siemens PLM Software.  

“The FIA leads the agenda to connect motorsports and urban mobility in order to inspire change and create a transformative impact on people’s lives”, says Jean Todt, President of the FIA. “This agreement between Siemens and the FIA on a project that involves R&D with the highest level of motorsport and urban transportation technologies will enable us to make racing safer and significantly influence the development of transportation in smart cities.”

Motorsport and urban transportation technologies will enable us to make racing safer and significantly influence the development of transportation in smart cities.
Jean Todt, President of the FIA

Fostering innovation based on a unique technology portfolio

The project highlights the Siemens automotive and transportation portfolio, which offers engineering solutions spanning the entire chip-to-city spectrum. Disruption of the automotive industry is in the news daily as major stakeholders – traditional car companies and suppliers, big Silicon Valley software and tech firms, mobility as a service (MaaS) vendors, and cities – all jockey to meet the evolving needs of consumers, which is to travel from point A to point B in a convenient, low-cost and above all safe fashion. Which is why using Rally to stitch together the world-unique collection of Siemens’ technologies to boost transportation safety is good news far beyond the track. 

The Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) represents the interests of motoring organisations and motor car users. FIA is mostly known as the governing body for many auto racing events. The FIA also promotes road safety around the world.

March 2019



Edward Bernardon

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay up to date at all times: everything you need to know about electrification, automation, and digitalization.

Related Topics