We've often looked at how new applications of camera technology, from quadrotors to GoPros to sequential shooting, can be used to create thrilling footage. But these are often used for purely artistic effect. Now some Formula One racing teams are experimenting with alternate imaging for scientific and diagnostic effect. In last weekend's Italian Grand Prix, UK-based Force India kitted out their VJM06 car—a technological masterpiece of carbon fiber, aluminum and a sort of super-Kevlar called Zylon—with an onboard thermal imaging camera. By producing a simple color scheme ranging from purple to orange, and greying out everything that's not hot, it allows technicians to see where and how hot the tires get. Have a look:
(Die-hard F1 fans who recognize the Monza track will notice that, yes, it's backwards; the original poster apparently reversed the video image to skirt a copyright issue.)
While thermal imaging technology has been around for ages, and in F1's diagnostic toolkit since at least the last decade, look at how clunky previous ways of viewing the data were:
As you can see, the on-board method is clearly superior for providing an instantly graspable sense of when, where and why the tires heat up. This is like infographics for automotive techicians. For us laypeople, it is fascinating to see just how sharp the temperature differential is when the car takes a corner. While there's no perceptible body roll, the friction increases on the outside tires appear to be staggering.
Sadly the VJM06, driven by Force India's three-year vet Paul di Resta, had a bad day at the track at Monza. On Lap One di Resta suddenly encountered a logjam, locked up the fronts and crashed (no one was hurt). First lap or no, look at how hot the tires have become by the time of the early impact:
It's a good thing the tire remained attached to the car; whether that's a safety tether or a brake line holding it on I can't say. But as we can see in the video, a free-flying F1 tire is not only a dangerous projectile in terms of mass, it also appears to be flamingly hot.
Via The Verge