David Belo, John Dales, and Camilo Pardo on driverless tech
● THE FORMULA ONE ENGINEER
At MCLAREN GROUP, DAVID BELO says, automated systems will allow drivers to push the limits of their vehicles.
Q: MCLAREN’S HERITAGE IS IN RACING—IT’S HARD TO IMAGINE THAT WITHOUT DRIVERS.
A: Yeah, the driver is the big part of the show, and in many respects it’s what people go to see races for. On the other hand, it’s also the technical challenge—one of the biggest you could aspire to solve as an engineer. The spectacle is just as much about the fierceness of competition between the drivers as it is about the marvel of what teams are coming out with this year. I think there is a lot of excitement for autonomous driving within Formula One companies for the same reason. Something that has been traditionally such a hard problem—driving—is now within our reach with these interesting and complex algorithms. At the same time, we don’t design without the human in the loop. Q: WHAT OTHER ADVANTAGES ARE THERE TO DOING THAT?
A: Whether it’s Tesla or GM or Porsche or a racing company, you have to take into account that you’re designing this machine for a human to exploit it. I think what makes us and some of the other companies working in this field interesting is we’re starting to use vehicle simulators to understand how the brain is interpreting a lot of the signals the driver needs to interpret in order to react to what’s happening in the car and change the control of the car. That work is just as important as developing the engine to produce three more horsepower. The work interacts to achieve a lap time that’s lower or to get a passenger car from point A to point B with a higher likelihood of no accidents.