“The latest thing from Q Branch. It’s called a radio.”
Despite being the most useful tool in James Bond’s armoury in 2012 blockbuster Skyfall, McLaren Applied is taking radio up a gear in a ground-breaking project called AutoAir. We’re using Formula 1-derived technology and insight to develop 5G New Radio (NR) and mmWave within the UK for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs), as well as rail and subway transportation.
Densely populated areas and fast travel speeds complicate cell-tower handoff which can reduce coverage. It means that the successful deployment of 5G relies on the implementation of a highly reliable infrastructure and that’s where McLaren Applied comes in.
For almost a year, we’ve been racking up the miles in a McLaren 570S at Bedfordshire’s world-famous Millbrook Proving Ground. Coincidentally, the filming location of the adrenaline-fuelled, high-speed car chase during Casino Royale – but that’s enough ‘007’ movie trivia for one day.
Millbrook’s elevation changes and abundance of foliage make achieving good coverage a challenge and really put 5G to the test as we simulate road or rail. For example, we can travel at the speed of a train – over 200 km/h – consistently in a 570S around the high-speed bowl. This has negated the need for lengthy and costly testing on the rail network, and accelerated the development process.
For decades, McLaren Applied has been at the forefront of getting reliable, high quality coverage to race cars at high speed in the harsh environments presented by motorsport. Using our experience in telemetry, software, simulation and predictive analytics – combined with our cutting-edge data acquisition and decision support tool ATLAS (Advanced Telemetry Linked Acquisition System) – it has been possible to acquire a detailed understanding of how well 5G NR operates, and develop it into a robust, first-class radio system.
In addition to ATLAS, our software solution for the AutoAir project has seen us embed our software platform – mCore – into the radios to capture data and send it to the ATLAS viewer for engineers to visualise and understand performance. By allowing engineers to measure the bandwidth, and the effect of changes on it, it’s been possible to learn how best to optimise the coverage.
McLaren Applied’s role in the development of 5G connectivity dovetails with its pursuit for advantage across motorsport, automotive, public transport and health. 5G opens the door to further advanced connectivity solutions in motorsport, for example telemetry and video, and a more immersive experience for fans.
Meanwhile on the road, vehicle data rates are set to climb as enhanced entertainment capabilities, more sensors and self-driving cars become widespread. 5G has a crucial part to play in the future of autonomous vehicles which will need to communicate with each other effectively to maximise safety.
When it comes to public transport, passenger experience can be improved through enhanced WiFi connectivity, as well as reduced delays and inefficiencies across the network via high bandwidth connectivity that supports our condition monitoring projects with train operators.
In health, digital therapeutics will rely on strong connectivity to monitor the wellbeing of patients in real-time. As the amount of data collected from people for medical reasons continues to rise, so will the demands of transferring all this data to the cloud for processing. A challenge made more acute, because unlike a car or train, it’s impractical to have computing equipment carried by human beings to buffer and manage data in areas of poor connectivity.
Visit us on the AutoAir stand at Mobile World Congress on 25-28 February to learn more about how McLaren Applied is using F1-derived tech and insight to develop 5G connectivity. (Stand 4A30, Hall 4)