A racing car is a complex machine, featuring many adjustable components, used to influence the car's performance and tune it to a circuit, the prevailing conditions and the driver's style. A race team must continually monitor the car's performance and a race engineer communicates with the driver to decide how best to optimise the car as well as how to extract most from the driver himself. Analysis of acquired vehicle performance data is an intrinsic part of this process.
This thesis presents an investigation into methods to aid the motorsport user's assimilation of acquired vehicle performance data. The work was directly prompted by personal experience and published opinion. These both find that the full potential of acquired data in motorsport is seldom realised, primarily because of the time available to analyse data with the resources available to a racing team. A complete solution including data management methods and visualisation tools was conceived here as a means of addressing these issues.
This work focuses on part of the overall solution concept; the development of a visualisation application giving the user a detailed and realistic three-dimensional replay of a data set. The vehicle s motion is recreated from acquired data through a kinematic vehicle model driven by measured damper and ride height data. Ground displacement is computed from wheel speed and accelerometer measurements as well as a new optical sensor approach aiming to achieve better accuracy. This implements a two dimensional auto-correlation of doubly exposed ground images, calibrated to distance on the basis of an integrated ride height measurement. Three sensor units are used to allow not only displacement but also heading data to be derived.
The result of the work described in this thesis is the proof of principle of both a display and sensor system, both of which were deemed worthy of further study and development to fully meet the demands of the motorsport application. The visualisation tool presented a new and applicable method of viewing acquired data, whilst the sensor was proven as a new method of deriving vehicle position data, from potentially low cost hardware.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.