MobileDemand Tablet PC Used by the Red Bull Racing NASCAR Teams
In May of 2010, we came across a press release by MobileDemand about equipping the NASCAR Red Bull racing team with their rugged Tablet PCs. In essence, MobileDemand engaged in a sponsorship with the Red Bull Racing Team, which competes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and provided the team with ten of its new rugged xTablet T7000 ultra mobile computers. The release said that the computers would be predominately used by the spotter, tires pecialist and the gas man to record and compute data. Integrated bar code scanners would assist the tire specialist in organizing the race tires throughout the weekend. The entire press release is here.
Computers, of course, have been used in racing for a long time. And modern automobiles are all controlled by superfast, ultra-reliable onboard computers that issue thousands of commands per second based on information received from dozens of sensors distributed throughout the vehicle (I learned much about that in years of hands-on ECU tuning of turbo and supercharged engines via the Hondata K-Pro system). Onboard computers have become so powerful and adept that their use is actually regulated in racing so as not to provide an unlevel playing field.
What MobileDemand provided, however, was a different kind of computing advantage -- that of making computing power truly mobile and bringing it to where it matters. To the track, alongside the car, when talking to the driver, when fueling and inspecting tires. Every racing team has laptops that sit in the bays, garages and offices, but few have small, rugged computers right where the action is. Computers that can survive a drop, a spill, rain and shine, and the kind of abuse that can happen out there. Like handling temperatures between -4 and 122 degrees Fahrenheit, getting blasted by water at 40 psi on all axes for ten minutes at a time, or getting dropped 26 times from a height of three feet. That's tough and rugged.
MobileDemand has now issued a video that shows how their rugged Tablet PCs are being used by the Red Bull Racing team. It's amazing stuff, and certain to be adopted by other teams as well.
Tablet PC Used by Red Bull Racing NASCAR Teams
The 3-1/2-minute video provides an excellent summary of MobileDemand's sponsorship of the Red Bull Racing NASCAR team, the issues facing a racing team, and how MobileDeamnd's rugged Tablet PCs are used to address those issues.
Austria-based Red Bull has been pushing the limits of conventional products and product marketing for more than a quarter of a century. Their energy drink has become ubiquitous, and so has the company's involvement and sponsorship of numerous sports, ranging all the way from Forumula One, hockey, soccer, motocross, to hundreds of individual athletes and, of course, NASCAR!
The Red Bull Racing team currently has two cars in the NASCAR Sprint Cup, 82 driven by Scott Speed, and 83 driven by Brian Vickers and now Reed Sorenson. No, they're not in the Top-10 in the standings, but they've had some good Top-10 finishes. And Red Bull really sounds a lot better than driving a Viagra or M&M car.
Racing is a vastly complex and potentially dangerous activity, one that boils down to meticulous support, meticulous preparation, and the best information possible. Good data is everything in a sport where split seconds can decide between winning and losing (I know; I've both won and lost by a single hundreth of a second).
Replacing old-fashioned pen and paper as well as aging stand-alone barcode scanners is high on racing teams' lists. In the video, a Red Bull Racing crew member says, "Your tablets fit the bill perfectly."
I have no clue what all the MobileDemand xTablet computers were hooked up to, but I know from experience that recording and analyzing race data provides a stunning wealth of information that can be used to detect problems, prevent problems, try different configurations, and optimize settings.
In the video, another crew member states that there's been much interest from other teams who want to know how the MobileDemand rugged tablets are being used. "NASCAR itself has actually looked at it with us," he said. Data collection opportunities are endless.
Among data collected by the Red Bull team on the MobileDemand tablets is information on tires, temperatures, pressures, fuel usage and a variety of other car performance factors. The small size and low weight of the tablet certainly comes in handy.
This appears to be Scott Speed who drives the Number 82 Toyota in the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Having information available wherever it's needed is invaluable. "We can send them to places where we never had them before," remarked one Red Bull crew chief.
In the video, a Red Bull guy points out that they're saving between 60 and 90 minutes inpreparation time before each race just by being able to use the integrated bar code scanner to put tire sets together!
And there you have it. The Red Bull Racing NASCAR team and MobileDemand's rugged xTablet T7000 computers. Leave it to the ever-innovative MobileDemand prez Matt Miller to pursue this opportunity to show the world what small, light tablet computers can do out there.