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Cisco Brings Wireless And VoIP To Indy 500

A wireless network feeds information on engine health, vehicle dynamics, and aerodynamics back to the pit crew.

Starting Sunday, car racing will never be the same. The Red Bull Cheever Racing team will use Cisco Systems' wireless and voice-over-IP technology at the 89th annual Indianapolis 500 race. The technology will give the team's engineers, pit crews, and even race-car drivers access to real-time information and statistics during the race.

Red Bull Cheever was using an older radio-frequency based system to conduct telemetry, or the extraction of data from race cars to the pits, says Eddie Cheever, owner of Red Bull Cheever. The Cisco technology will provide the team with more bandwidth for transmitting data. "Our weakest link was telemetry--moving data from the car to the pits--but now it's becoming our strongest link," Cheever says.

The team also will use IP phones talk to one another. The full line of Cisco equipment that will be used by Red Bull Cheever includes the Aironet 1100 and the 1300 Series wireless access points, the Mobile Access Router, and the 7920 Wireless IP phones with VoIP capabilities.

Two Red Bull Cheever race cars will compete in this year's Indianapolis 500 and will be equipped with the Mobile Access Router and an adapter that have been integrated into each car's sensory systems. This will give the team a real-time flow of data, says Greg Akers, senior VP and chief technology officer of Cisco's Global Government Solutions Group.

One hundred eighty channels of data will be transmitted from the sensory systems over a Wi-Fi network set up throughout the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race cars will feed big chunks of data back to the server, including engine health, vehicle dynamics, and aerodynamics.

Cisco's equipment is rugged enough to handle vibrations and the heat of a race car, which means Cisco should be able to apply it in other similar environments such as the military and law enforcement, Cheever says.

As for the Red Bull Cheever team, having the technology in place means getting crucial information when it happens without delay when the race kicks off this weekend. "Technology for us is very important," Cheever says. "If you're behind the curve on technology, it's very difficult to make the right decisions, it's difficult to make the right strategies, and it's difficult to win races."

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