A little bit more details about iPACENOTES project

07.03.2016. / Knowledge

This is the first article in the series of blog posts about iPACENOTES project. We'll try to explain here what the iPACENOTES project is, then equally important what iPACENOTES is NOT, and we'll try to explain how we're going to accomplish the goals of the project.
The goal of iPACENOTES project is to create software system based on GPS technology which plays the role of co-driver in rally racing. To begin with, what are co-drivers really doing during a rally race? If you've seen videos from inside rally car during the race you've heard that there is a lot of communication between driver and co-driver (more precise, it's kind of one-way communication; the co-driver continuously talks and the driver says something very rarely). Most of you know that the co-driver is reading so-called pacenotes, but the precise meaning of them is mostly unknown to the general public. After all, why there's co-driver in rally and there's no co-driver in, say, Formula One racing?
The iPACENOTES project will try to explore whether it would be possible to use cheap and broadly available smartphone/GPS devices to make a system which behaves like co-driver. GPS is required here because pacenotes are short sentences describing road geometry and conditions immediately in front of a racing car. Obviously, a device replacing co-driver must "know" where it is on the road. There are other ways to determine device physical location, but the Global Positioning System (GPS) is by far the most popular and cheapest one, and therefore it is "no brainer" to try to use it for such racing purposes.
Why smartphones? The iPACENOTES project aims to be broadly available to general public. We need a programmable device which can seamlessly fit into the car, which can be connected to car's sound amplifier/speakers but at the same time it must be cheap. As with GPS, smartphones seem to be "no brainer" choice.
Although pacenotes are used primarily in rally racing, iPACENOTES usage does not restrict to rallying. Every lengthy racing track with large number of corners represents a challenge for racers to remember it completely. Take for example probably the most famous racing track in the World, Nurburgring Nordschleife. The track is 20.8 km long at it has 154 turns (this number varies depending on how the corners are counted). Nurburgring Nordschleife is open for general public and each year tens of thousands enthusiasts come to Green Hell to test their skills. Most of these amateur racers learnt the track by using racing simulators. However, the human perception dramatically changes when there's real car and real track in place. iPACENOTES will try to use rallying pacenotes concepts to help such drivers to race on Nurburgring more safely, more precise and more fun.
There are many problems we'll be facing during development of iPACENOTES. Pacenotes are not standardized among rally drivers, GPS is not even close to be precise enough for racing and piece of electronics cannot take a psychological role that every co-driver plays. But, we strongly believe that developing a system which will be close enough to real co-driver is still possible. However, iPACENOTES is NOT replacement for a co-driver in the real, professional rally racing. We want it to be educational tool and we want it to significantly increase safety for amateur racers. iPACENOTES has no intentions beyond these goals.
Consider iPACENOTES project as a journey during which we'll describe every step of its development, the problem we are facing and the reasons for each particular design/implementation choice. Even if you never intent to race, we'll try to make it interesting from the pure fun point of view. After all, racing is (mostly) just fun and entertaining.
The credits for the iPACENOTES project idea all goes to Croatian rally crew Juraj Šebalj - Toni Klinc.

They have approached us in Mireo with the idea of merging GPS technology with rally racing. It was them who guided us so far in formulating the idea and explaining every little important detail of rally racing. It was also them who were and will be the first guinea pigs testing the system. Good luck for them!
Stay tuned, the next blog will describe pacenotes concepts to general audience.

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