Italian company working on ‘artificial intelligence system for monitoring track limits’

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Italian company working on 'artificial intelligence system for monitoring track limits'

In Italy, work is being done on a system that uses artificial intelligence to solve the problem with track limits. The intention is to apply artificial intelligence to computer vision, allowing the system to monitor the violation of track limits in corners. That would make the work of the stewards in, for example, Austria a lot easier.

In 2023, the race weekend at the Red Bull Ring was mainly focused on exceeding the track limits. After the race, many drivers were still punished, because the stewards could barely keep track of who had exceeded the track limits during the race. There were also many violations in Qatar, and Sergio Pérez received a five-second penalty several times. Mermec Engineering, an Italian company specialized in sports technologies, presented a new system in Vallelunga on Sunday that aims to use artificial intelligence to solve situations such as in Austria.

“The idea came from an interaction with the race management, who have to manage an innumerable number of signals regarding track limits during races,” explains Niccholo Chierroni, Mermec Engineering CEO, ACI Sport. ‘Often this is not resolved in a clear manner, resulting in disputes and management problems. So we thought that our systems for automatic video analysis, that is, artificial intelligence applied to computer vision, can play an important role in this,” said the Italian. The system will be able to automatically recognize the cars on the circuit and monitor the excesses.

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Verstappen Leclerc Sainz Hamilton starts GP Austria 2023
Track limits in turns nine and ten of the Red Bull Ring caused extra headaches for the stewards. (Photo: Red Bull Content Pool/Getty Images)

After identifying the violation, Race Management receives a video fragment in real-time, linked to a historical overview of the information, allowing them to issue penalties if necessary. Chierroni describes it as a simple and intuitive system that can be linked to the cameras already present on the circuit and offers a precision on the order of centimeters, depending mainly on the resolution of the cameras installed. Versatility is also one of its strengths, with the ‘boundary lines’ easily adaptable to any type of bend.

Possibly a solution for multiple circuits

The system particularly impresses Automobile Club Italia president Angelo Sticchi Damiani. It would obviously be fantastic for Italy if the system developed by Mermerc Engineering is applied during several races. ‘My first impressions are excellent. This is incredibly innovative and reliable,” says Damiani. ‘I believe it is fundamental to seize these opportunities that artificial intelligence offers, also for the challenges of the future.’

Using AI for certain matters of the stewards, such as handing out penalties, has been suggested before. Lewis Hamilton indicated that he was in favor of the use of artificial intelligence to support the decisions of the stewards. AI can also help maintain consistency, according to the seven-time world champion. Deploying a system like that of Mermec Engineering could potentially prevent a track limits debacle like the one in Austria in 2023.

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