INSIGHT: Corvette's new integrated video and data system

INSIGHT: Corvette's new integrated video and data system


INSIGHT: Corvette's new integrated video and data system


Racing technology continues to trickle down to performance car buyers. Performance enhancers such as clutchless paddle-shift gearboxes, traction control and launch control, once the sole provenance of multi-million-dollar-budget race teams can now be found as OEM equipment on road cars. Now that has translated into data acquisition.

For the first time, a video-, accelerometer- and gps-based data acquisition system will be available on a production road car, the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. Developed with Cosworth, the Corvette Performance Data Recorder integrates video with GPS, accelerometers and OBD-II information such as throttle and brake position, steering angle and RPMs to provide club racer-level data acquisition in an integrated solution.

“The Performance Data Recorder combines the ability to record and share drive videos with the power of a professional-level motorsports telemetry system,” says Tadge Juechter, Corvette chief engineer. “Drivers can easily record and share their experiences driving down the Tail of the Dragon or lapping Road Atlanta. In addition, with the included telemetry software, users can analyze their laps in incredible detail, and find opportunities to improve their driving and lap times.”

The high-definition, 720p video, which can be played back on the Stingray’s infotainment system when the car is parked or any other place where MP$ video can be viewed, provides speed, RPM, throttle and brake position, steering angle and a g-circle, along with lap times in Track Mode. Three other modes Sport, Touring and Performance modes, provide different data overlay information.

Once home, the driver can download the information into the included Cosworth Toolbox software, a lighter version of the Toolbox that professional racers use with Pi data acquisition systems (Cosworth and Pi came together when Kevin Kalkhoven bought both companies in 2004).

“It’s a Performance Data Recorder aimed at giving the user a track day experience to really improve the driving experience, to improve their performance,” says Stuart Heptonstall, Cosworth global product manager for the PDR. “It can be used for other types of application as well you can cruise a beautiful drive and record what you’re seeing. You can also use it in sport mode, where it gives you a little less information. It’s really there to improve the track day and driving performance, but also to add to the driving experience, to get the driver more involved with the vehicle when they close the door. Then they can relive their experiences on the MP4 file recorded on the SD card.”

The Cosworth Toolbox application will overlay recorded laps on a Bing-enabled satellite map of the track, including corner traces, speed and lateral acceleration. Users will be able to compare laps in detail to improve consistency.

“What we’ve done with the Cosworth Toolbox in the Corvette is take the same race engineer principles, abstract them up several levels so you don’t need to be an engineer to use it,” explains Heptonstall. “The Pi Toolbox is a fantastic system, very complex and sophisticated. You can drag out any particular parameter of the car setup, three or four hundred channels. That’s fine for the professional racer, but for the amateur racer or the enthusiast who wants to have fun and use the car at the track once or twice a month, having that complexity is a barrier for usage. We wanted it to be much more accessible, much easier to use, but still have the key basics of driving performance and analytics so you can go faster and improve.”

The hardware is fully integrated into the car, with the camera mounted in the windshield header trim. A microphone in the cabin can record the driver and passenger. The video and information is recorded onto an SD card that goes into a slot in the glove box. An 8 GB card will record about 200 minutes worth of video, and the system only records when an SD card is present and the driver tells it to.

“There are a lot of great aftermarket systems out there; but the thing that sets this apart is the integration and synchronicity of the system. It has a wealth of features you would expect in a racer telemetry system. It really shows how far the connected car is coming. It’s about having fun with the car, but it also has a serious driving overtone that is very much linked with the racing program and has its roots and its lineage in a Cosworth-pedigreed racing solution,” says Heptonstall.

The PDR system will be available with the start of regular 2015 Corvette production in the third quarter of 2014.