If you follow international rally racing, you may have heard of RallySafe. The RallySafe system is an on-board electronic device that can instantly alert safety crews and oncoming cars of emergencies. In addition to the safety aspect, this system also provides live timing, including split times and GPS location information. Here’s a description of the RallySafe system from their web site:
The RallySafe unit is a small electronic module fitted to a vehicle for use by the navigator and driver. It incorporates a full colour display, key pad, accelerometers, a radio transceiver, GPS, GSM and satellite communications capabilities. The RallySafe electronic device uses all of this latest technology to automatically transmit warnings and vehicle status data from unit to unit and to Race Control as quickly an efficiently as possible.
The main safety function of the system is to automatically generate hazard warnings in the event of an accident. This signal is transmitted immediately to following competitors’ vehicles and race controllers. Each in-car unit indicates a competing vehicle’s speed, severity of accident and location in reference to the designated course.
The driver or navigator is able to upgrade or downgrade the warning that their vehicle transmits when the system identifies an extraordinary event. An example could be if a vehicle unexpectedly stops on course but does not present any danger to itself or following competitors.
Push to pass functionality is also a feature allowing a competitor to warn forward vehicles of their intention to overtake greatly eliminating risks taken in dust or hazardous passing locations
Motorsport has historically relied on human “Flag Marshalls” trained to signal cars of dangerous situations. Flag Marshalls cannot feasibly cover every metre of a designated competition zone and cannot be placed in positions that jeopardise their safety, particularly in rallying. Also there are situations where human intervention is just not fast enough. RallySafe is able to cover the entire course and can notify competitors and race control without delay.
All data is transmitted via GSM or satellite to a web server, where it is visible to Race Control officials and the public in an intuitive, easy to use graphical interface. This provides race control with up-to-date knowledge of all their event vehicles and competitors, stage statuses, split times and stage times.
As a volunteer I witnessed the radio communications and confusion when we had the the scary fire that destroyed Nick Roberts and Rhianon Gelsomino’s Super Production Subaru at the Oregon Trail Rally. The stage was shut down rather quickly once word got to a HAM radio operator, however I can imagine a system like this would increase response times exponentially.
I hope that Rally America implements this well proven system for the full season next year. The addition of timing including split-times and GPS online maps would create a system superior to even what the WRC has available to the general public today. You can follow along the Lake Superior Performance Rally and see RallySafe timing with this link here
And here’s an instructional video of the system in action: