Tired of Formula 1? Try Formula Pi!
The Formula 1 Season in nearly upon us, with very, very, fast vehicles, costing millions, driven by drivers, who cost millions, driving around a massive track, that cost millions, it can be fun for some people to watch, but I just don’t get it. Yes, the cars are fantastical feats of engineering, superb creations that get the car tinkerer in me drooling, with pioneering designs that in turn can transpire into the real world where mere mortals exist. But, in my real world, I’m never going to pop to the shops in the latest and greatest F1, or even a new car, my realities are somewhat more financially challenged, and the roads are pretty rubbish too.
Now, I can get on board with something that’s affordable, practical and fun, so think of something you can really watch while you are there track side, instead of 2 seconds worth of two cars belting past your viewpoint every 40 seconds (those seats cost you serious money remember), think smaller, think easier, think accessible, think cheaper!
The Formula Pi Podium
Formula Pi is a racing series of autonomous Raspberry Pi based racing cars, made up of several classes, all of which involve different programming skills and cover a wide range of ages, so it’s not just a realm of the professionals.
The premier race is called Formula Pi – Grand Pi Class, a 23 lap race, which runs for two intense seasons. The little autonomous Raspberry Pi powered race cars are all owned by the organiser, Formula Pi, to maintain the integrity of each of the vehicles and to ensure that they are evenly matched. The autonomous robotic race cars will all have evenly matched speeds, motor torque, contact friction, and turning parameters to be as fair as they can possibly be. There are competitions where entrants can use their own vehicles as well, including those running the standard YetiBorg motor and those which are modified, just to add another element of fun to the proceedings.
Eager competitors write their own code with which to run the Raspberry Pi race car they have been given, there is, of course, a few stipulations for entry as you may expect. This code, one created, is submitted for approval and installation by the Formula Pi team.
Full Spec Racing
These Race cars are equipped with 4 Yetiborg motors, one per wheel, a Raspberry Pi Zero V2, a V2 Raspberry PI Camera, and a ZeroBorg KS2, which is the controller PCB for Raspberry Pi based robotics, plus one 9V PP3 battery. No Wifi or Bluetooth connection is allowed, all the coding must be present on the installed SD card and the only input after that is via the camera, which of course is what the little race cars use to see where they are going!
Silverstone? No! It’s the PiBorg Circuit!
PiBorg is a state of the art race circuit, a fully rubber skirted 22m metres of twists and turns and high octane (PP3 Powered) speedy straights, LED race lights, laser timing, and a colour coded track to zip around. Raspberry Pi racers will go through a stringent series of heats, with rewards for consistency and aggressive driving, high points for the avoidance of crashes, better handling, no false starts, distance travelled, and so forth.
Great prizes were awarded for the winners of the 2016 season; a Monster Borg robotic vehicle, a Pi-Top Creed and a RasPIO inspiring Pyramid from RasPi.TV made up some of the prizes. It may not be a million dollar contract to wear a fancy brand of watch or some gold plated trainers or promote some horrid smelling aftershave, but at least, for the technology-loving type, these are fun to have prizes!
It may not be as fast paced as your average Formula 1 race, but at the very least you will be able to see it all and be more involved too. Now there is more incentive to dust off those racing overalls, grab that old open-faced helmet that you haven’t worn since the great moped crash of 1996 and get Formula Pi racing this summer!