Cisco helps to usher in new era of full-sized driverless racing
Cisco’s intelligent networking technology has been used to remotely control a full-sized electric-powered race car around a track at 200kph for the first time.
Conducted in partnership with DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) – the German touring car championship – Schaeffler and Riedel Networks, the historic drive took place at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria on 2nd September 2021. The DTM Electric Demo car was raced around the 4,326 metres long track without a driver in the seat. The racecar was instead controlled remotely by DTM Trophy champion Tim Heinemann from a state-of-the-art simulator located 82km away in Graz.
“The hugely successful remotely controlled run of the DTM Electric Demo car around the Red Bull Ring thrilled those in attendance on race day. Critical to the success of the run was the speed and reliability of Cisco’s networking technology which enabled signals carrying video, communications and remote car controls to be transmitted at close to the speed of light with the highest possible reliability. Cisco is delighted to have been part of this event as it showcases that the technology has now matured enough to make electric-powered, autonomous and remotely-controlled vehicles a reality,” said Reem Asaad, Vice President, Cisco Middle East and Africa.
Unlike small radio-controlled vehicle toys, this sophisticated full-sized electric car was built by DTM technicians, in conjunction with project leader, Schaeffer. Cisco provided the technology while Riedel Networks designed and built the communication network.
Attempting to drive a full-sized remotely connected and controlled race car around a track, safely had never been attempted before and it was therefore essential to have a responsive and secure connection.
The communications architecture of the car was specially designed and implemented by Riedel Networks to enable it to be controlled with Cisco Software-defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN), and the Catalyst 8300 Edge platform for the primary connection with a direct fiber over MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching) link. It is a fast and extremely reliable link and as a result is popular with some Cisco customers for running select applications in their Cisco SD-WAN architecture over MPLS.
The Cisco Catalyst 8300 Series Edge Platforms feature multicore architecture and powerful hardware-accelerated encryption capabilities which creates a secure, high-performance, and reliable connection. This technology was critical in providing reliable data transmission with carrier grade (99,999%) availability that was required between the car and the remote driving simulator.
The architecture was also designed with a redundant backup in place as a precaution in the rare event that the MPLS link went down. An in-built 5G connection using Cisco’s Catalyst Cellular Gateways can step in to maintain the link. Under these circumstances the 5G over SD-WAN will become the primary transport for data with multigigabit connectivity at up to 3.3Gbps.
The Riedel network supported the remote steering link while enabling video feeds from the car to the driver and from the driver to the pitman at the racetrack. In addition, the network also provides intercom communications.
The success of the remotely driven car highlights the capabilities of Cisco’s SD-WAN technology. This has the flexibility to leverage any combination of transport services to securely connect users to data and applications in any location with an optimized experience.