Formula 1 GPS Technology

Back in 2005, It was been reported that GPS for data acquisition technology could provide Williams with an advantage over conventional satellite positioning used by other teams.

The provider of the system, Qinetiq, said that its GPS technology had grown out of work with the Royal Aircraft Establishment and the MoD in radar and tracking systems. The technology was seen during the world’s first automatic landing of the STOVL aircraft.

One of the things that Williams needed to achieve was to measure where their car was and how it was performing during testing as well as assessing and understanding why one driver was sometimes quicker through a corner than another. Whilst Williams could have chosen to use a camera on a corner to compare the racing line a driver had taken and picture methods, this was all retrospective and GPS offered real time technology. The key for the team was to access the information immediately.

With some conventional systems certain areas have proven to be problematic in obtaining a good GPS signal. The challenge in Formula 1 was the visibility for the satellite due to such things as the grandstands and the dynamics created as a result of the high G-forces encountered all impact on GPS performance.

Williams were supplied with a combination of GPS with inertial sensors, as used in an aerospace environment and which give Inertial sensors allowing the ability to bridge outages.
This being back in 2005, it would be interesting to see how GPS has advanced in Formula 1.

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