Electric vehicles have become commonplace and are known to glide noiselessly along the streets. Electrically powered Formula 4 cars, on the other hand, aren’t so quiet. When they speed by the stands at velocities upwards of 200 kilometers per hour, spectators can barely hear themselves talk over the loud hissing and whirring. You might think you’re in a science fiction movie with a fleet of spaceships about to land.
Zolder, Belgium is a good place to experience this first-hand. The world-famous racetrack is home to ERA, the Electric Racing Academy, organizer of the world’s first all-electric junior racing series targeted at next-gen drivers. ERA was founded in 2020 by Beth Georgiou, Dieter Vanswijgenhoven, and Rudi Penders, and it aims to be more equitable, sustainable and, above all, better connected than the more traditional combustion race series. The first season had its debut in the summer of 2022 in cooperation with Software AG. The vehicles are the first of their kind and are equipped with the latest technologies. Each car has its own 4G hotspot, to be upgraded to 5G in the future.
ERA isn’t just forging new paths on asphalt. The back office also relies on cutting-edge technologies for comprehensive IoT car connectivity. According to Lucas Strackerjan, ERA’s Technical Director, “Thanks to Cumulocity IoT, we can see a lot of technical data about a car in real time like motor temperature and battery voltage.” Additionally, data is collected about drivers, such as their heart rate. This data can then be used in relation to other metrics such as routing or outside temperature.
The availability of this type of data signifies enormous possibilities for further optimization of race analytics and the ability to leverage this insight advantageously. Race teams can evaluate their strategies relative to the latest IoT data and adapt them based on current situations to secure a competitive advantage. Lucas Strackerjan explains, “We are currently at the first stage of a journey that will pass through at least ten stages along the way to achieving greater connectivity and obtaining, analyzing, utilizing, and sharing real-time information.”
British Racecar Driver
Cofounder and Director
Morris is certain that the more information a driver has, the better he or she can gauge their driving experience and decide what to do in a given situation and in the next race. “Additionally, I can use the data as a basis for in-depth follow-up discussions with my mechanic. It helps us both understand what is going on and what has to happen to be even faster in the future.”
Connectivity is an innovation enabler in motorsports as well. “And the journey has just begun,” says Director Beth Georgiou. “I am convinced that we can bring about some really positive changes to motorsport when it comes to IoT innovation, sustainability, and diversity,” adds the Brit who grew up close to the Silverstone Circuit in England. She has loved car racing for as long as she can remember. The foundation is laid. Now ERA wants to grow the ERA concept throughout Europe and then eventually expand the series to other continents.