iRacing Presents Paper at Racing Technical Meeting
SAE International, the global mobility engineering organization, begins its 2008 annual Motorsports Engineering Conference tomorrow in Concord, NC. As part of the conference iRacing.com will present a paper, entitled “Development of a Low-Cost, Effective, Internet-based Motorsport Driver Simulation,” on the use of simulation as a driver-training tool during Thursday afternoon’s technical session.
“From the start, our simulation software was designed to be a training tool for real-world racers, with the cost of development partially amortized across the larger market of racing enthusiasts and fans, for whom our software has an entertainment application,” said the paper’s lead author, Dave Kaemmer, iRacing’s chief executive as well as chief technical officer. “But the current economic crisis has put pressure on racing budgets, leading to substantial reductions in testing, sometimes even mandated by new rules imposed by sanctioning bodies. As a result, already existing team and driver interest in the use of virtual-world technology has taken on an even greater urgency.”
According to Kaemmer, the accuracy of the track and vehicle models in iRacing’s internet-based simulation service is the key to providing a virtual experience that has application and benefit in the physical world. “Drivers and teams have been paying attention to this technology for quite a while now,” Kaemmer said. “But so far, truly accurate simulation has been out of reach to all but the top Formula One teams. We know, both anecdotally and from our company’s own survey research, that many drivers have experimented with video games as a way of learning new tracks, but, for the most part, they didn’t find them sufficiently helpful.
“Our physics model is very advanced. Through the use of extremely accurate laser scanning of tracks and data-intensive modeling of vehicles, we’ve created a simulation that so accurately mirrors the real world many subscribers to our service – including experienced professional racers – report that they’ve been able to learn tracks they’ve never seen before, or refresh their memory of a track prior to a race. When they get on track for practice during the weekend, there’s no time wasted getting up to speed. They can immediately begin optimizing their setup in preparation for the race.”
Ian Berwick, iRacing’s vehicle dynamics engineer and a co-author of the paper, described the techniques used to create vehicle models that perform in the virtual world just as their counterparts do in the physical world. “The task is easier when the manufacturer is able to provide us with CAD files, but there’s still a lot of work to be done to make sure that all of the masses within the car are properly determined and located,” Berwick said. “For cars where no accurate documentation exists, we have to start from the very beginning, measuring everything, weighing components, capturing suspension curves, and so on. We generally have alpha testers who have real-world experience with the car, and we don’t consider a car finished until they tell us the virtual version drives just like the real one.”
The iRacing simulation service was opened to the public in late August, following more than four years of development. More than 8,000 individuals, representing a cross section of the motorsport community, have subscribed to date. In addition to providing testing opportunities for real-world racers, iRacing’s sanctioning body, FIRST, organizes a variety of race series for simracing enthusiasts around the world.