FIA and Siemens trialling ITS technology to improve motorsport spectator safety


At the Geneva International Motor Show in Switzerland, the governing body of world motorsport, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), and Siemens launched a new project aimed at using ITS technology to improve the safety of spectators and drivers at global Rally events.

The FIA administers the rules and regulations for all international four-wheel sport, including the Formula 1 World Championship and World Rally Championship, bringing together 240 national motoring and sporting organizations from more than 144 countries.

FIA’s new project with Siemens will explore how a combination of technologies from the company’s Intelligent Traffic Systems (ITS) and PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) Software business divisions can be used to improve the detection of spectators in dangerous locations, and thus make it easier for race organizers and drivers to take preventative and/or immediate action to avoid accidents.

Through this partnership, the FIA will make use of Siemens’s expertise in chip-to-city engineering in real-world connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) applications. Outcomes from this project will directly benefit efforts to improve pedestrian safety in cities.

Last year more than four million spectators attended FIA-sanctioned Rally events, which take place on stages that can stretch across more than 15 miles (25km) of on- and off-road routes. This can make it difficult for race organizers to monitor an entire stage, which are often on relatively narrow dirt and gravel roads that cut through diverse terrain, further hampering efforts of drivers and spotters to watch for fans who may be in harm’s way.

The first step in solving this problem is creating an advanced 2D and 3D simulation using vehicle and trackside arrayed sensor-based systems deployed on Rally stages. These systems include:

  • Rapid-fire fusion of data from vehicle sensors via custom neural networking and AI to add a safety-layer around the human-driven vehicles;
  • Intelligent infrastructure technology including X2X (everything-to-everything) communications that will create a safety-enabling network at Rally events, connecting drivers, spotters, race organizers and spectators.

In addition, the unique combination of FIA and Siemens expertise, developed in the extreme environment of racing, will accelerate efforts already underway to make city roads safer.

“We are leading the agenda to connect motorsports and urban mobility in order to inspire change and create a transformative impact on people’s lives,” explained FIA president Jean Todt. “This agreement between Siemens and the FIA on a project that involves R&D at the highest level of motorsport and urban transportation technology will enable us to make racing safer and significantly influence the development of transportation in smart cities.”

Edward Bernardon, vice president of strategic automotive initiatives at Siemens PLM Software, commented, “In the age of increasingly automated vehicles, racing will be an essential testbed for the automotive industry, which needs the widest array of data and the most challenging environments to continue to build and train advanced autonomous, connected and electric automotive technologies.”

Marcus Welz, president of Siemens ITS in North America, added, “We look forward to working with the FIA to determine how CAV technologies can be leveraged to make race Rally drivers and spectators safer and applying what we learn to improve intelligent infrastructure and pedestrians’ safety in urban mobility environments.”

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Adam joined the company in 1994, and has been News Editor of TTT since 2009. In his other role as Circulation Manager, he helped create the original Traffic Technology International distribution list 23 years ago, and has been working on it ever since. Outside of work, he is a keen fisherman, runs a drumming band, and plays an ancient version of cricket.