In my role as a race team data analyst, I spend hours looking at data. It has been captured by various sensors on the race car and then turned into graphs or squiggly lines, as my colleagues prefer to call them, by software programs. The ability to manipulate this data into something more meaningful in terms of performance analysis is a key role for the data engineer. We use maths channels and along with the software, they can turn a basic data capture into a sophisticated analysis platform.
For example, drivers always feedback on understeer or oversteer characteristics of the car, you will see them on TV with the imaginary steering wheel turning the corner, giving feedback to the engineer. They are sometimes very wrong and this is where a simple maths channel can be used alongside steering angle input to prove how the car is actually behaving during a corner. Using the longitudinal acceleration input and dividing this by the wheelbase of the car, we get a representation of the corner radius, which can be compared to the driver’s steering input. If the driver gives a constant steering input the car is natural, if he must wind on more lock then we
have understeer and if he is winding off lock then we have oversteer. The problem is, it is a dynamic environment and you may have understeer on the entry of the corner, oversteer at the apex and natural steer on exit.
Collecting data from the steering angle sensor, while the team push the car, or drive very slowly around the corner, results in the natural steer angle for that corner, see Figure 1.
This can be used as a comparator to make changes to the nut behind the wheel, aerodynamics, geometry or suspension to achieve the desired characteristic for the fastest way around that corner.
It is much easier using the graph to spot trends and glitches, than scrolling through thousands of lines of raw data. This is great when the tool displays the specified reading, but what if there isn’t a specified value?
Using the chart feature in the spreadsheet software makes this a much easier task, but collecting the data is of little use if you are not able to interpret it. For example, a low reading from the Air Mass Meter may indicate a problem with the component or that the Exhaust Gas Recirculation valve is stuck open. It may also be a problem with the inlet manifold swirl flaps or carbon build-up. The technician has to decide the next course of action and what test to perform to prove the cause and not the effect.
The more methods used for accurate measurement, the greater the likelihood of accurate diagnosis. If you would like to find out more about GotBoost’s training courses, visit www.gotboost.uk where you will find all the latest news and courses.