Your behavior appears to be a little unusual. Please verify that you are not a bot.

Red Bull Air Race selects VectorNav VN-300 for onboard telemetry

February 26, 2018  - By

Red Bull Air Race has selected the VectorNav VN-300 dual-antenna GNSS-aided inertial navigation system (INS) as its primary source of aircraft telemetry data for Master Class raceplanes participating in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.

Weighing less than 30 grams, the VectorNav VN-300 is a tiny dual-antenna GNSS-aided INS. It is used in applications ranging from autonomous vehicles to antenna pointing for satellite communication and aerial surveillance applications.

The inaugural event of the 2018 season in Abu Dhabi saw the VN-300, manufactured by VectorNav Technologies, used for the first time in all 14 aircraft to provide real-time telemetry data used for judging, in-race simulation and virtual reality applications.

Created in 2003, the world championship has held more than 80 races around the globe. The motorsport competition combines speed, precision and skill.

U.S. pilot Michael Goulian performs during the finals at the first round of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in Abu Dhabi on Feb. 3.(Photo: Andreas Langreiter, Red Bull Content Pool)

Using the fastest, most agile, lightweight racing planes, pilots hit speeds of 370 km/h while enduring forces of up to 10 G as they navigate a low-level slalom track marked by 25-meter-high, air-filled pylons. Pilots incur time penalties for hitting pylons, incorrectly passing through air gates or only exceeding 10 G for more than 0.6 seconds, among others.

Being an individual sport, spectators need a reference to see the difference between the pilots’ lines and speed through the racetrack. Red Bull Air Race Live TV uses an augmented reality (AR) solution known as the Ghost Plane to display the trajectory of the pilots’ runs for real-time comparison in the head-to-head rounds and the Final 4 that decides the winner of the race by time.

The Ghost Plane is driven by the position, velocity and attitude data gathered during flight from the onboard INS.

Critical to the success of the Ghost Plane is the accuracy of the telemetry data, which, given the high dynamics experienced during flight, is extremely difficult to obtain.

For example, as a plane races through a chicane and into a vertical turn maneuver, GPS signals are lost and the INS needs to rely solely on the inertial sensors to accurately estimate the position and velocity until GPS is fixed again in level flight.

The VectorNav VN-300. (Photo: VectorNav)

The VectorNav VN-300. (Photo: VectorNav)

“We evaluated several different inertial navigation systems and struggled to find one that was able to perform in our dynamics,” said Alvaro Navas, sport technical manager for the Red Bull Air Race. “VectorNav’s VN-300 was the only product able to deliver the attitude, position and velocity data accuracy we require, and it did this out of the box, no customization was required. The sensor is really amazing.”

“We are really excited to be working with Red Bull Air Race,” said Gordon Hain, VectorNav product manager. “Not only are we able to provide accurate data for the race judges and spectators, but we are also able to provide valuable information to pilots and tacticians. With the VectorNav data in hand, they are able to compare actual flight trajectories with their simulations to find areas for improvement. We are looking forward to continued work with Red Bull Air Race in the 2018 season and beyond.”