Safety First In St. Pete
March 31, 2005 | 1:03 P.M. EST
The new system will debut at the Indy Racing League (IRL) event in St. Petersburg, Fla., April 3. IRL drivers already have a series of yellow lights flashing on ovals, but on road courses, they rely on corner workers who lean into the track and wave warning flags to help warn drivers of hazards. The new system uses wireless technology to help remove corner workers from harm’s way.
With Delphi’s new system, yellow caution lights can be placed at intervals around the track and controlled by wireless remote control. The control, enabled by Futaba’s Industrial Radio Control System, allows track officials to remotely operate the system at one or several locations on the track. Even in the event of loss of power at a track, the Local Caution System is powered by back-up systems and will still help warn drivers of upcoming hazards.
"Visibility of the caution light, along with having it in the same place at every corner, will consistently help warn drivers of potential hazards," said Brian Barnhart, president and chief operating officer, IRL.
"Drivers who helped us test the Local Caution System say the best part of the system is consistency," said Dave Brown, track safety coordinator, IRL. "They tell us a light in the same place on every turn is easier to see and react to than a flag which at some points is hard to see. Safety is our number one priority – and this is another Delphi innovation that continues the company’s commitment to safety in Motorsports."
Delphi has been a leader in safety systems for the automotive market for several decades. Safety milestones for the company include being the first to produce a padded instrument panel in 1956 and the first to provide a production airbag in 1973. Delphi was also the first to introduce an airbag module integrated into the steering wheel in 1996.
Delphi has been involved in open-wheel racing since 1988. Today, a majority of the vehicles in the IRL are equipped with several of Delphi's racing products, including:
Delphi Earpiece Sensor System – measures dynamic forces to a driver's head during an accident. It uses small sensors integrated into the left and right radio earpieces worn by the driver. The six accelerometers – one for each of the three axes on each side – measure acceleration in the X, Y and Z axes during an accident. The combined data from the earpiece sensor system and on-board accident data recorder provide accident researchers valuable data for a clearer picture of what happens during a crash.
Accident Data Recorder (ADR2) – senses and records key vehicle parameters at 1,000 samples per second just prior to, during, and after an accident-triggering event. It is a crash-hardened system that can record data from both the vehicle's internal sensors as well as information from the car's on-board data acquisition system. It can also be used to record data from external sensors like Delphi's earpiece sensor system.
Track Condition Radio – helps alert drivers with critical information by transmitting messages from race control to racecar. A dash-mounted display communicates messages including safety warnings, track condition and pits opened/closed.
Comprehensive Safety Testing – Delphi provides several testing services to the racing industry, including hydraulic sled testing and analysis at the Delphi Safety Systems Test Center in Vandalia, Ohio. Using one of the few hydraulic test sleds in the U.S., and information obtained from Delphi's earpiece sensor system and ADR2, Delphi can simulate a crash and provide feedback including information from on-board data acquisition, on- and off-board digital video monitoring.