DRIVING STUDENT INNOVATION WITH TELTONIKA NETWORKS' 4G LTE ROUTERS
#collaboration, #students, #usecase
At Teltonika Networks, we strongly believe in fostering innovation and supporting universities as well as their students in IoT projects. We’re very excited to share that our collaborations with higher education institutions have resulted in impressive achievements in the competitive field of Formula Student racing!
Individual preferences may differ, but there’s one thing the majority of us can agree on: the thrill and joy of watching race car sports are undeniable. Especially when high speeds, extraordinary strategies, and unexpected surprises come into play. For many enthusiasts, it provides an exhilarating dose of adrenaline. Now, consider the immense elation experienced by those who actively contributed to the development process of this very thrill.
In the past, we’ve sponsored StarkStrom Augsburg, a non-profit organization, by providing them with our RUTX11 AC Wi-Fi router to manufacture an autonomous racing car. And recently, we had the pleasure of sponsoring two Formula student teams, equipping them with our RUT951 and RUTX11 4G LTE routers to implement connectivity in the competitions. With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at how existing technologies are blended and driven to the extreme in Formula!
MEET THE FORMULA ELECTRIC BELGIUM TEAM
The Formula student group Formula Electric Belgium from KU Leuven University and Thomas More University College universities began their racing season of 2023 with Titan – their latest electric race car. They participated in multiple events, including the largest engineering design competition in the world – the Formula Student Competition.
When the team was presented with the challenge of developing and building a brand-new race car in just nine months, they understood the need for a meticulous construction strategy to bring Titan to life.
During the vehicle development process, many questions arose regarding the car's construction. Questions like the monocoque’s weight and the aerodynamic package. However, one crucial challenge emerged during the planning phase – providing uninterrupted network connectivity to the entire solution. This was essential, as a myriad of data and commands from multiple pieces of equipment needed to be flawlessly transmitted between Titan and the team's pit crew throughout the race.
IN SEARCH OF A ROBUST 4G LTE ROUTER
The team outlined specific requirements for selecting a networking device, bearing in mind the unique challenges of Formula Racing, which are many.
Formula racing involves high speeds and a demanding environment filled with vibrations and temperature variations. Consequently, the device must maintain total efficiency even under these extreme conditions.
It doesn’t help that Race cars are equipped with numerous connectivity-driven devices that require data transmission. This means that the networking device must therefore act as a switch, enabling the pit crew to connect to components.
These include a driverless computer to process the data, an electronic control unit (ECU) to control the car, a Raspberry Pi to provide statistics, and a GPS to establish real time kinematics (RTK) and acquire accurate vehicle location data. All of this necessitated a minimum of 4 Ethernet ports to achieve optimal solution efficiency.
Since the team would compete in multiple events across different countries, the networking device must feature dual SIM and 4G LTE router capabilities to ensure redundancy and seamless connectivity regardless of location. And beyond these requirements, the device must also function as a portable Wi-Fi router, which would enable wireless network configurations and add an extra layer of flexibility as well as convenience.
Having previously experienced the performance of Teltonika Networks routers, the Formula Electric Belgium team had no doubts about where to turn to for a 4G LTE router that perfectly matched their requirements: our RUT951. Guillaume Degroote, the Chief Engineer from the Formula Electric Belgium team, adds: “Having had experience with Teltonika Networks devices, we were confident that their device would fit our requirements when looking for a high-quality solution.”
IMPLEMENTING RACING CONNECTIVITY SOLUTION
At Teltonika Networks, the most common material for device housing is aluminum, a widely-used material known for its resilience. This makes our RUT951 industrial Wi-Fi router durable and resistant to factors such as shocks and drops.
Additionally, the vast majority of our devices are engineered to endure harsh temperatures as low as -40 °C or as high as 75 °C, electromagnetic interferences, humidity, and, most importantly – vigorous vibrations that are particularly frequent in Formula racing. This makes our RUT951’s physical endurance the perfect option for the team’s solution.
By employing Teltonika Networks' industrial Wi-Fi router, the RUT951, the students applied real time kinematics to their solution. This application takes data from the inertial measurement unit installed in the race car and showcases more precise and accurate location data than a normal GNSS would.
The 4G LTE router also enabled the formula student team to implement a telemetry system to see the current and past racing car data and remotely update parameters if needed using an MQTT server.
However, all of this wouldn’t be possible without two crucial elements: cellular and Wi-Fi WAN interfaces. Because RUT951 is a portable Wi-Fi router with dual SIM, the students could easily install the router inside the race vehicle and then remotely carry out all the necessary tracking tasks to ensure the success of the solution.
MEET THE BOLOGNA UNIVERSITY TEAM
Every year, around 250 engineering students from Bologna University participate in the UniBo Motorsport racing team project to design and manufacture three types of vehicles: an electric motorcycle, an electric car, and an internal combustion engine car.
The Bologna students also participate in multiple racing vehicle events, like the Formula SAE Competition and Formula Student organized by SAE International. Throughout their years of participating in such events, the student team has acquired the title of the main prize winner, won by the team’s enthusiasm and passion.
In the 2023 race car season, the Bologna University student team put great emphasis on bringing innovation to their vehicles. This involved the development of a live and wireless telemetry system powered by reliable 4G connectivity. However, for it to work, the team needed a networking device that’s just as reliable: our RUTX11 4G LTE router.
TELEMETRY AND MAXIMIZED PERFORMANCE WITH 4G
Telemetry is very crucial for racing. In fact, so much so that we would describe it as the driving force behind maximizing vehicle performance. But how so?
It’s what enables you to collect and analyze real-time data continuously, equipping the team with insights on the race vehicle’s status, which helps make adjustments to optimize its performance.
The RUTX11 industrial Wi-Fi router plays a critical role in the realization of the student team’s telemetry system for a number of reasons. First, RUTX11 equips the team with dual-band Wi-Fi and 4G connectivity with speeds of up to 300Mbps.
RUTX11 also functions as a data transmitter, bridging the vehicle's ECU and the engineering team's roadside computer. The connection is made possible by a router installed in the vehicle, directly plugged into the ECU via an Ethernet cable. Data is then transmitted to the roadside computer through a wireless WAN interface.
DEVELOPING THE TELEMETRY SYSTEM
With these RUTX11 AC Wi-Fi router features on the table, the students developed a telemetry system based on relay communication between the ECU and the roadside computer that runs through a secure OpenVPN-based VPN tunnel. This connection is facilitated by a Linux-based cloud server, which enables the team to manage the VPN server and relay user datagram protocol (UDP) to all devices connected to the router.
To make the best out of this telemetry system, the student team employed a UDP protocol to establish a faster live stream of logged data between the two endpoints. The team stated that this system is much more efficient than a point-to-point connection would be.
Excitingly, the Bologna University student team is also developing a driverless electric vehicle that requires advanced remote controlling systems attainable using a wireless connection. The RUTX11 4G LTE router would be a fantastic candidate for such a mission, as it is future-proof and provides reliable network connectivity and wireless access to other equipment.
WORD-OF-MOUTH LEADS TO WONDERS
Both student teams have had past experience with Teltonika Networks and were confident our devices would satisfy their requirement. As Massimo Pisani, the C-Electronics Division Manager from the Bologna team, says: “We chose Teltonika Networks as our partner, motivated by their collaboration with a like-minded Formula SAE team. We found them to be a robust company known for innovative networking devices that combine remarkable reliability and security with user-friendly functionality.”