Cisco helps to usher in the new era of full-sized driverless racing
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Cisco helps to usher in the new era of full-sized driverless racing

Cisco helps to usher in the new era of full-sized driverless racing

Conducted in partnership with DTM, Schaeffler and Riedel Networks, the drive took place at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria on September 2, 2021

Divsha Bhat

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), Schaeffler and Riedel Networks, the historic drive took place at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria on September 2, 2021. The DTM Electric Demo car was raced around the 4,326 metres long track without a driver in the seat. Instead, the racecar was controlled remotely by DTM Trophy champion Tim Heinemann from a simulator located 82km away in Graz.

“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,” 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 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 tried 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 fibre over MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching) link.

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 per cent) 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.

Recently, Cisco announced that it is committing to reaching net zero for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across all scopes by 2040, 10 years before climate scientists say the planet must reach net zero to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Cisco’s net zero goal will be supported by near-term targets, including reaching net zero for all global Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 2025.

Read: Cisco commits to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040

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