January 7, 2021

THE SOFTWARE-DEFINED RACE CAR

Isn't a race car defined by software already?

Think about all the design and simulation software that is used to define a car. Well, that's not exactly the full picture.

Think about the embedded software that runs on the various control units in the car. Still not the full picture...

The above is just patchwork. Specific solutions for specific problems. Knitted together as needs arise.

A current race car is far from being software defined. The use of software is component driven, mostly without looking beyond one's own nose.

That's like a race engineer losing overview. First focusing purely on setup, then discovering that fuel and tyres need to be managed. After a while realizing that a strategy instead of just managing the car would have been more beneficial. It turns out that the pit stops are messy, a lack of preparation and poor choreography. Finally the car breaks down due to a failed part with unknown mileage.

Maybe this a bit of a drastic picture, however with a grain of truth. A current race car is far from being software defined. The use of software is component driven, mostly without looking beyond one's own nose. Largely not with results as fatal, but with inefficiencies and untouched potentials.

What if you invert the situation and see it more holistic?

A race car is a complex system that is part of an even more complex environment.

During a race weekend, various complex systems interact with each other. They including the competing cars, sporting and technical regulations, the race track, weather conditions, and plenty of human individuals.

Eventually each race weekend is part of of the overarching championship with all its elements. The goal seems simple: CHAMPION.

However, to win you need to achieve a global optimization, taking all systems and interactions into account. Digging around just for a local optimums is not going to get you there - unless you experience an extraordinary amount of luck.

This seems pretty much common sense, so what's the big deal with software then?

Well, software has the power to help you to control and find the global optimum.

Check out the Part 2 in a bit to learn more..

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