Alex is a young entrepreneur with passion for technology and innovation and background in rally racing. He came to us with a vision of new technology that would change the world of rally. A mobile app that would improve situational awareness of rally crews, provide real time data about car status, enhance navigation experience, possibly even eliminate the need for a co-driver.
The goal was to create a mobile application that would run primarily on tablets connected to OBD connector in a car. Through OBD the app would read live data from car’s sensors and display it to the crew to provide information about current status and warn the crew in case dangerous or critical values appear in any of the car’s systems. Additionally, the app would provide navigation features with map displaying current track and position of car on the track along with pacenotes.
After assessment of all requirements and options, we decided to do a hybrid app for easier portability. However, the main target platform was Android. We build native Android backend in Java, with REST API and HTML 5 frontend on top of that. As you can imagine we faced many technical challenges. One major challenge was communication with OBD interface. We had no prior experience with car electronics, so this part demanded a lot of research. Once we had all communication issues sorted it got a bit easier, we just needed to do some calculations and display values in a way that allowed the crew to read them really fast. We needed to keep in mind that they can only take a quick glance at the screen and need to see everything right away, as their attention must primarily be on the road.
Another difficult part was the navigation feature. Fist we had to find a way to easily create and import tracks aligned to gps coordinates. Then we needed to create an algorithm to automatically generate pacenotes for each curve on the track. This included calculating overall angle of the curve, sharpness, distance to the next curve and other attributes. All based on gps coordinates.
This project was a real challenge to us, accompanied with many doubts if we can do it. But we managed to find solutions to all issues and it was one of the most enjoyable software deliveries, because we actually did initial testing on our own cars. SmartPilot is now in long-term testing and assessment phase to find out if it can actually change modern motorsports.