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### AI’s Role in Assuming Stewardship Positions

In a significant step towards enhancing precision in Formula 1 race monitoring, the FIA has announc…

The FIA has introduced a novel initiative to leverage artificial intelligence for enhanced monitoring of track limits, marking a significant stride towards refining precision in overseeing Formula 1 races. A trial of this state-of-the-art technology is scheduled to take place during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, aiming to assume a pivotal role currently fulfilled by race stewards.

An “optical character recognition” system, which conducts shape analysis on digital images to accurately identify instances of cars breaching track boundaries, is set to be integrated into the FIA. This innovative approach is poised to notably diminish the need for manual review, expediting the entire adjudication process.

The primary goal is for the AI system to alleviate the workload on the FIA’s Remote Operations Center (ROC) by filtering out blatant violations, thereby facilitating prompt resolution of track limit infractions.

Tim Malyon, the head of the ROC, underscored that the core objective of deploying AI is to streamline the assessment of cases:

Posing the question, “How can we handle the multitude of checks efficiently?” Malyon remarked, “Currently, we are employing a ‘brute force’ approach.” Assigning individuals to this task is the current recourse, but the endeavor is to introduce AI software, which represents a step up from the ROC’s capabilities.

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Malyon drew a parallel between AI in F1 and medical diagnostics, elucidating that akin to how computer vision aids in discerning anomalies in cancer screenings, AI in racing will sift through overt violations, enabling experts to focus on more ambiguous cases.

He elaborated, “It may seem unconventional, but the methodology of this AI mirrors the ongoing discourse in medical screenings, such as leveraging computer vision to analyze data from cancer screenings.”

The decision was made to exclude the 80 percent of evidently non-cancerous cases to allow skilled professionals more time for analysis. This aligns precisely with our objective.

During a standard Grand Prix, the ROC handles approximately 800 checks. The aspiration is for AI to slash this figure to a mere 50, thereby easing the workload for FIA personnel.

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Additionally, the FIA is trialing a sophisticated vehicle tracking system named Catapult, which utilizes receivers for precise positioning akin to those utilized in the NFL, alongside AI technology.

According to Chris Bentley, the head of information systems at the FIA, the Catapult system could enhance live broadcasts by enabling the visualization of pertinent “lines of interest” and fostering the gradual enhancement of AI’s analytical capabilities.

Bentley remarked, “In the NFL, every player on the field can be identified, even amidst a large crowd.

This application can be seamlessly integrated into our live broadcasts. It will enable the delineation of ‘lines of interest,’ akin to the new tool’s functionality. Over time, the AI will evolve.

Malyon added, “Our objective is to refine existing systems and introduce novel ones moving forward.”

Enhancements in vehicle tracking are in the pipeline to bolster reliability. Moreover, to accommodate more remote operations, the number of ROC staff will be doubled from four to eight in the upcoming year, along with an augmentation in the connectivity throughput between the circuit and Geneva.

A call has been made for Wolff and Vasseur to take on administrative roles.

Despite technological advancements, the FIA found that the human eye remains the most reliable tool for monitoring track limits, particularly underscored by the incidents in Austria. It outperformed timing ring data and automatic recognition systems.

Consequently, the FIA has discontinued the use of timing loops for enforcing track limits across most circuits, opting instead for video analysis by statistical experts. Bentley stressed the enduring significance of human judgment in the sport, advocating for giving drivers the benefit of the doubt in borderline cases.

Recent FIA decisions have faced criticism from F1 drivers.

The consensus was that having a data scientist personally review the footage was the most suitable approach.

This underscores the intriguing aspect that, presently, human oversight still reigns supreme in GPS and loop positioning.

Bentley further explained, “Unless there is a chicane obstructing the desired outcome, the timing loops have been deactivated for all track limits.” Ultimately, the guiding principle remains: “When in doubt due to proximity, the decision favors the driver.”

Looking ahead, the FIA is committed to refining these technologies and introducing new ones to expand the capacity for remote operations and increase the number of ROC personnel. These efforts aim to enhance the overall reliability and efficiency of Formula 1 race management.

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Last modified: February 19, 2024
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