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MWC 2017: Mercedes F1 Says 802.11ad Wi-Fi Will Give It More Detailed, Rapid Car Data

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Mercedes F1 will trial 802.11ad Wi-Fi at British Grand Prix so it can make better decisions quicker

Mercedes F1 will trial the use of 802.11ad Wi-Fi to collect data from its cars, with the hope that faster wireless transmission speeds will allow race engineers to collect more detailed data more rapidly. 

The team, which has won the Constructor’s and Driver’s Championships for each of the past three seasons, will test Qualcomm’s technology at the British Grand Prix later this year, building on previous tests of 5GHz 802.11ac at the US Grand Prix last year. 

The trials at Silverstone will combine that system with 802.11ad technology over 60GHz spectrum to transmit race and car data when the car approaches the pit garage. The choice of which band to use will be done dynamically and depends on which has the most reliable throughput. 

Mercedes_Qualcomm

Mercedes F1 Qualcomm 

Each car will be fitted with 128GB of flash memory and the hope is that more intensive telemetry data will result in quicker, more informed decisions and mean the drivers have to spend less time in the garage. 

The Formula One regulations are set to change dramatically in 2017 and will see the introduction of wider tyre. Williams F1 has told Silicon about how this might affect teams’ analytics operations and Mercedes plans to collect even more tyre data so the team can continue its domination of the sport. 

“Following a successful field trial in Austin last year, the target is to have the 802.11ad Wi-Fi technology running on-car during Friday practice from the 2017 US Grand Prix onwards,” said Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport. 

Enhanced communications have become essential for Formula One teams in the past few years in a bid to gain a competitive advantage. Regulations and cost limit how many team members can attend each race, so fast fibre connectivity is needed to link the garage with strategy teams back at base. For example, Mercedes has a partnership with Tata Communications. 

For Qualcomm, motorsport provides a testbed for its technology with a view to using it for other applications like 4K streaming and lag free screen mirroring. It has used another series, Formula E, to trial wireless charging technology. 

“802.11ad Multi-gigabit Wi-Fi technology can also address the growing need of bandwidth for content-rich applications in homes, offices and cars.,” added Derek Aberle, Qualcomm president. “We look forward to continuing this trial with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport team as it will help us learn how we can accelerate bringing the benefits of 802.11ad to these everyday use cases, as well as evolve towards 5G connectivity.”  

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