Nurburgring Building $12 Million AI System To Detect Crashes on Track

Keeping an eye on every corner of a 13-mile circuit is hard, so the Nurburgring is enlisting some digital help.

byLewin Day|
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The Nurburgring is due to receive some high-tech upgrades to keep the hallowed track running smoothly and safely well into the future.

As reported by CarBuzz, €11 million euros ($11.95 million) has been earmarked for the project to install digital infrastructure around the track. The new project aims to cover the track with high-definition cameras and new LED warning signs with an aim to improve safety. The system will enable earlier detection of incidents on the track. This will allow emergency personnel to respond faster and give earlier warnings to other drivers on track to slow down.

At 13 miles long, it's simply impractical to post marshalls on every part of the Nurburgring, whether during public drive days or outright record attempts. The new camera system will offer greater vision and aid detection of incidents around the circuit. The Nurburgring has been working with Fujitsu to develop an artificial intelligence system trained to detect hazards on track. When the system identifies a crash or other issue, it can then automatically trigger LED warning panels to warn incoming drivers of the hazard ahead.

The system has been trialed thus far on a section of the track known as the Döttinger Höhe. In addition to the AI system, the camera feeds will run back to a control center to help track staff make decisions on how to respond to incidents. It's not intended to replace regular track marshalls or radio communication. Instead, it will serve as an additional tool for detecting hazards on track and triggering warnings to those on the circuit.

Installing infrastructure to cover the entire 13-mile circuit is no small task. Fiber optic and power cables will be laid underground to service the new hardware, along with off-grid power supplies to keep everything running. Cameras will sit atop storm-proof masts to give them a wide view of the track.

The new system is expected to be operational in 2025. As for the AI system, it's expected to undergo continual tuning and refinement to hone its hazard-detection abilities in the Nordschleife environment.

The continual pursuit of safety in motorsport is crucial, as fatal accidents can still happen at the Nurburgring. Most recently, a tragic incident in 2021 saw several drivers lose control due to spilled coolant on the track. One driver was killed after his car hit a tow vehicle, with a further seven injured. Going forward, the hope is that earlier detection and warnings of hazards could prevent such disasters in future.

While motorsport is safer than ever today, it remains a dangerous pursuit. The effort to improve safety at the Nurburgring with new digital infrastructure should be applauded. Rather than calling the job done, track administrators are continuing to invest in building a better, safer racetrack for the future.

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