When it comes to technology used in racecars, we generally expect it to trickle down to production cars, not the other way around. Well, Pratt & Miller has developed a new rear-facing radar that operates in a similar fashion to what we're used to in modern blind spot detection systems, only it is also capable of tracking cars as they approach and relaying vital information to the driver via a large display screen.

The innovative radar system debuted at last weekend's 12 Hours of Sebring for Corvette Racing, and this system makes perfect sense for endurance races like this since the cars sometimes have to drive through the night and in poor weather conditions.

The radar can detect cars even with poor visibility, and it uses easy-to-distinguish symbols for the driver to identify the proximity and closing speed of nearby racecars using different colors.


"The system uses a rear-facing radar sensor to track up to 32 objects, and runs on a custom-built Linux PC with a Core i3 CPU," said Chris Hammond, Embedded Systems Engineer for Pratt & Miller. "With a momentary glance the driver knows how many cars are following, how far back each one is, their closing speeds, and whether or not they are probably a faster class."

Displayed in the image above, the radar can detect cars even with poor visibility, and it uses easy-to-distinguish symbols for the driver to identify the proximity and closing speed of nearby racecars using different colors. The yellow marker shows a car that is driving at the same speed as this car, green is for a car that is falling away and red is for a car that is closing in quickly. The line through the marker indicates that the software thinks the approaching car is from a faster class, which would be the case when a Prototype car goes to pass a GT car in the American Le Mans Series. A large arrow that flashes to either side when the car is being overtaken, and there is also a line graph at the side of the screen to give an estimate of how many seconds back the cars are.

Currently, Hammond says that Pratt & Miller is the only company to have a system like this used for racing, and it plans on selling the technology to other teams in the future – although a price has not been set.

There are a couple videos posted below showing the system in action. The first one is a shot purely from the radar (so it has no audio) but shows a detailed look at how it all works. The second video is a point-of-view shot from Corvette Racing's Tommy Milner, and it shows how the driver uses the system in real time.




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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 23 Comments
      Eddy A
      • 1 Year Ago
      That 2nd video made me so jelly. Anyways P&M are among the best and this is just another example of why that's the case.
      Chase
      • 1 Year Ago
      Jealous of the drivers of those cars
      Joe
      • 1 Year Ago
      If anyone needs this technology, its Ferrari. The 458s have a very bad habit of getting in front of the prototypes at the perfectly wrong moments causing epic wrecks in the process. If my memory serves me well, two years ago a 458 cut off one of the Audis, and last year one of the Toyotas was sent end over end into the chicane wall. Both wrecks had those been open top cars would have had high chances of killing their drivers. Hopefully this year we wont have a similar problem.
      Giulio Magnifico
      • 1 Year Ago
      Cool, looks like playing a game :-)
      Rotation
      • 1 Year Ago
      I saw that during the race. It's fantastic, in a series where having spotters can make the difference between finishing and crashing, it's amazing to have something like this. Think of how many times a GT car will be overtaken at Le Mans, if even one of those goes wrong you can be out of the race. So reducing the chance of collision while being overtaken is a huge plus. P&M are again way ahead of the pack. Audi started bragging last year about their rear view cam that Corvette had had for 4 years. Now P&M jumps ahead again.
      ryan_four
      • 1 Year Ago
      I; as everyone else, dreamed of being a pro racer. I lack the charisma, experience and funds to do so. Ohh and I'm lazy, so as any guy would do I became a realistic train mechanic. :-)
      bluemoonric
      • 1 Year Ago
      Typical GM. This car is so overexposed already.
        Tom
        • 1 Year Ago
        @bluemoonric
        @ blue. Typical autobloger Bashing GM
      AXEL
      • 1 Year Ago
      As if it would have helped team corvette miss a porsche if they're aiming for it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brNtbaMadX4
        Rotation
        • 1 Year Ago
        @AXEL
        You have an interesting take on Bergmeister running the Corvette into the wall.
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          AXEL: Watch the video again. The camera is behind the Porsche and from this view. the Corvette goes out of view behind the Porsche. That means the Corvette was in front of the Porsche when the Corvette spun out. As I said, Bergmeister ran the Corvette first into the inside wall and then as the Corvette passed him, kept turning into him, spinnig the Corvette out in a (again, let's hope inadvertent) pit maneuver. As to the idea Bergmeister didn't know the Corvette was between him and the wall, that is 100% hogwash. There is no other reason for Bergmeister to move within a car width of inside wall, you don't do that when racing normally. Second, Bergmeister wasn't born yesterday, he knows that when the car behind you bumps you out on a corner (as Magnussen did to him on turn 11), it is to make space on the inside to pass. So Bergmeister would have to be a real newbie to think that Magnussen wasn't going to come up the inside after bumping him out on the corner. Oh, and there's that issue of the 2nd set of headlights visible to his direct left, and in front of him to the left. They would be visible even without having to change your gaze from the road in front of you. Bergmeister is too experienced for that. He knew what was up. He was squeezing Magnussen out on purpose and kept doing it until he spun Mangussen out hard into the wall.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          [blocked]
          AXEL
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          Actually Rotation the Vette had not yet reached the Porsche's driver window, so Berg didn't know the Vette was between him and the wall, was the on-track reasoning. Also, if you bump, bully, and drive like a jackass most of the race, eventually karma catches up.
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          Bumping a car on the corner to unsettle it is not a legit excuse for running the other car into the wall first on one side and then pivoting it and ramming it into the other wall at high speed. Magnussen unsettling Bergmeister wasn't fair, hopefully if it worked he would have been penalized for it. But drivers know about it and how to do it, it would only slow Bergmeister down, not spin him out. But Bergmeister running Magnussen into the wall was dangerous. Bergmeister should have been sanctioned for dangerous driving. What Magnussen did was not a pit maneuver. Magnussen's move did not spin out Bergmeister or attempt to spin him out. A pit maneuver is done when both cars are moving in a straight line. What Bergmeister did was (let's hope) inadvertently a pit maneuver. Because Magnussen was passing Bergmeister, as Bergmeister kept driving forward and right into the side of the the Corvette, he forced Magnussen to turn 90 degrees and that ran him into the wall because the track is very narrow at Laguna Seca. Magnussen shouldn't have did what he did, but it was at least safe. Bergmeister, surely remembering what Melo did to him, let the red mist get to him and forgot about the safety of Magnussen and himself. There is never, ever any legit reason to drive another car into the wall.
      Drakkon
      • 1 Year Ago
      Audi's and 7-series BMWs already set off my radar detector the whole way home from work. Now I'll have to listen to the beeping while I lap in France as well!?!?
      AudiA4
      • 1 Year Ago
      Maybe it's just me, but isn't the arrow shown to indicate the car is passing on the wrong side? If you're a driver, and you're looking at a screen displaying the view from behind, a giant arrow that points to the car in the video would actually be opposite of the side of the car from the driver's perspective. This would seem to be misleading unless they reverse the video image (to replicate what you'd see in a rear-view mirror).
      jmi2
      • 1 Year Ago
      so this is supposed to replace the rearview mirror? i think it will drive me crazy. you are going to have a navigation screen AND live rearview screen? might be too distracting....
        chriszuma
        • 1 Year Ago
        @jmi2
        Racecars don't have navigation screens...
        David Pio
        • 1 Year Ago
        @jmi2
        it replaces the rearview mirror as they car's rear window is completely blocked. also..yeah it's probably very distracting in a road car situation, but this is for racecars, and they are trained to use it and expecting it
      diffrunt
      • 1 Year Ago
      A simpler version should displace all passenger car mirrors . & I think it will , but not soon enough.
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