Formula 1 racing teams are using National Instruments technology to adapt to changing regulations. With real-time analysis tools, engineers are able to tune their engines in record time.
You already know how great NI tools are when it comes to cars and trucks. For example, engineers at Ford are using our products to test fuel cells for their electric vehicles. Our software was even spotted in Cadillac’s Super Bowl commercial this year. But buckle up, readers, because we’ve got news for you! In June 2011, FIA released new regulations that change the make-up of Formula 1 engines for the 2013 races. The new engines require direct injector drivers and a smaller 1.6L turbocharged 4 cylinder engine with turbo boost. As a result, the engineers need stout direct injectors for fuel to be injected at a very high pressure.
While most companies have commissioned engineers to develop specialized engines, Drivven, an NI company, created off-the-shelf modules that can do all of this, and do it better. Due to the new engine structure, companies are focusing on the combination of engine control and combustion analysis to get the best engine performance. Combustion analysis helps the user figure out how the engine is performing and what algorithms are most effective.
Usually combustion analysis and engine control occur separately, but Drivven has opened up the lines of communication using NI CompactRIO. What does this mean? Well, the Drivven system can create advanced control regimes such as next-cycle control. A next-cycle control regime gathers cylinder pressure data from the current combustion event and processes it in time to change engine actuators for the next combustion event. It’s like it can predict the engine’s future and respond in record time.
Drivven used the NI LabVIEW Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) Module and NI LabVIEW Real-Time Module to program the direct injector driver modules, increasing the power and flexibility to command the injectors. Because this new system is so flexible, the user enjoys unparalleled control on engine timing, with multiple injector pulses per combustion sample. These off-the-shelf engine modules have already been snagged up by one major racing company, but we’ll keep their identity our little secret until race time.