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McLaren enters esports race

McLaren has become the first Formula 1 team to enter the esports arena, announcing World’s Fastest Gamer – an intense and demanding competition for virtual racers.

World’s Fastest Gamer is a contest that will see the winner offered the best job in esports – a role with the Formula 1 team as one of its official simulator drivers.

World’s Fastest Gamer is a collaboration between global sports and technology brand McLaren, founding partner Logitech G, a global leader in gaming gear and the founder of virtual motorsport’s famous GT Academy, Darren Cox. McLaren welcomes two further partners for launch. Sports media platform GIVEMESPORT and esport racing innovator Sparco.

The format pits the best gamers in the world across multiple racing platforms as they battle each other to discover the ultimate ‘champion of champions’.

The winner will be offered a one-year contract with McLaren to work in an official capacity as a simulator driver. They will work with engineers at both at the McLaren Technology Centre and at grand prix circuits across the world to develop and improve the machinery driven in the real world by the team’s drivers, Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne.

Billed as ‘the best job in esports’, the battle to find McLaren’s newest recruit will be viewable at every stage via a dedicated YouTube channel and McLaren’s social media channels. Six international finalists will be hand-picked by experts in both gaming and Formula 1 to join this year’s competition. A further four finalists will be selected from qualifying events online during summer 2017.

The grand finale, held at the McLaren Technology Centre in the autumn, will put all 10 hopefuls through one of the most rigorous job interviews in the world. Not only will they race against each other across a variety of different gaming titles on different platforms, they will also need to demonstrate their engineering know-how, ability to work as part of a team, and display the mental and physical strengths required for such a unique position.

McLaren Technology Group Executive Director Zak Brown said:

“This is a hugely exciting opportunity – not only within the gaming industry, but for everyone at McLaren and motorsport in general. We’ve long witnessed the growth of online sports gaming, and, right now, the parallels between the real and the virtual worlds have never been closer.

“This is absolutely the right time to be creating such a unique and exciting proposition; one that connects the worlds of racing and gaming in a way that’s never been explored before.

“I’m particularly proud that McLaren, alongside our partners Logitech, Sparco and GIVEMESPORT, have staked a claim as the very first sports and technology brand to venture into the diverse and fast-growing world of esports.

World’s Fastest Gamer really aims to democratise the process of finding the best virtual racer out there. The contest isn’t limited to one platform or one game; we’re very keen not to restrict access or entry for people, but rather welcome the worldwide gaming community, whether that’s on mobile or on high-end simulator platforms.

“And the winner will genuinely be a key part of our team at McLaren. This is for real: we absolutely require additional support across our two simulator platforms, so the competition and the selection process will be rigorous, ruthless and compelling to watch.”

Ujesh Desai, Vice President and General Manager, Logitech G commented:

“Logitech G has been in the esports world since the early days, and we’re happy to now work with McLaren to lead the next mainstream esport obsession! Joining McLaren as a founding partner of the World’s Fastest Gamer brings together our combined expertise on one virtual platform.”

“Logitech G Driving Force racing wheels are engineered for extreme performance and are designed to win; we’re proud to be able to provide them for these exciting events.”

“Logitech G and McLaren share an obsession for speed, cutting-edge technology and the passion of millions of fans. We can’t wait to see what the future will bring.”

Darren Cox, IDEAS+CARS Chief Maverick Officer, added:

“Gaming and esports are growing at an astonishing rate. The football industry has recognised this, with the result that activity has exploded between the real world and the virtual world in the last 18 months. Now, World’s Fastest Gamer will provide the focus for motorsport to talk directly to the huge numbers of passionate and dedicated gamers racing online – engaging and immersing them in the real world of racing.

“In McLaren and Logitech G, we have the perfect partner with whom to deliver this project: their constant focus on technical innovation and their authoritative position within motorsport’s digital communication sphere are the obvious major benefits. However, to align with a global sports and technology brand that is renowned for producing some of the world’s greatest Formula 1 cars, road cars, and that now applies insights from both to improve lives through its technology arm, gives us the opportunity to involve and integrate gamers from across a whole range of gaming platforms and racing interests.

“Motorsport will invest heavily in esports in the coming months and years, and World’s Fastest Gamer is at the very forefront of that movement.”

Where the real world meets the virtual world…

With teams, leagues and players from the world of sport investing heavily in esports – from Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City, to West Ham United and the Philadelphia 76ers – virtual/reality collaborations are a fast-growing trend.

In the US, esports are already catching up with baseball and ice hockey. A recent US report found that 76% of esports enthusiasts now prefer the gaming equivalent to watching their favourite sports on TV.

esport is now one of the biggest sports in the world, with revenues now overtaking those of Hollywood. Global gaming is worth $100 billion, with year-on-year growth of almost 10%, and the esports global audience has already reached 300 million.

As viewership of motorsport is adjusting to new digital trends, and leading brands start to invest heavily in gaming instead of traditional sports sponsorship, the message for the sports industry is apparent: virtual sport offers a compelling way forward.

Cars

Two-thirds of adults ready for cars that drive themselves

The latest Looking Further with Ford Trends Report reveals that behaviour is changing across key areas of our lives

Self-driving cars are a hot topic today, but if you had to choose, would you rather your children ride in an autonomous vehicle or drive with a stranger? You may be surprised to learn that 67 per cent of adults globally would opt for the self-driving car.

That insight is one of many revealed in the 2019 Looking Further with Ford Trend Report, released last week. The report takes a deep look into the drivers of behavioural change, specifically uncovering the dynamic relationships consumers have with the shifting landscape of technology.

Change is not always easy, particularly when it is driven by forces beyond our control. In a global survey of 14 countries, Ford’s research revealed that 87 per cent of adults believe technology is the biggest driver of change. And while 79 per cent of adults maintain that technology is a force for good, there are large segments of the population that have significant concerns. Some are afraid of artificial intelligence (AI). Others fear the impact of technology on our emotional wellbeing.

“Individually and collectively, these behavioural changes can take us from feeling helpless to feeling empowered, and unleash a world of wonder, hope and progress,” says Kuda Takura, smart mobility specialist at Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. “At Ford we are deeply focused on human-centric design and are committed to finding mobility solutions that help improve the lives of consumers and their communities. In the context of change, we have to protect what we consider most valuable – having a trusted relationship with our customers. So, we are always deliberate and thoughtful about how we navigate change.”

Key insights from Ford’s 7th annual Trends Report:

Almost half of people around the world believe that fear drives change
Seven in 10 say that they are energised by change
87 per cent agree that technology is the biggest driver of today’s change
Eight in 10 citizens believe that technology is a force for good
45 per cent of adults globally report that they envy people who can disconnect from their devices
Seven out of 10 consumers agree that we should have a mandatory time-out from our devices

Click here to read more about the seven trends for 2019.

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At last, cars talk to traffic lights to catch ‘green wave’

By ANDRE HAINZLMAIER, head of development of apps, connected services and smart city at Audi.

Stop-and-go traffic in cities is annoying. By contrast, we are pleased when we have a “green wave” – but we catch them far too seldom, unfortunately. With the Traffic Light Information function, drivers are more in control. They drive more efficiently and are more relaxed because they know 250 meters ahead of a traffic light whether they will catch it on green. In the future, anonymized data from our cars can help to switch traffic lights in cities to better phases and to optimise the traffic flow.

In the USA, Audi customers have been using the “Time-to-Green” function for two years: if the driver will reach the lights on red, a countdown in the Audi virtual cockpit or head-up display counts the seconds to the next green phase. This service is now available at more than 5,000 intersections in the USA, for example in cities like Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Portland and Washington D.C. In the US capital alone, about 1,000 intersections are linked to the Traffic Light Information function.

Since February, Audi has offered a further function in North America. The purpose of this is especially to enable driving on the “green wave”. “Green Light Optimized Speed Advisory” (GLOSA) shows to the driver in the ideal speed for reaching the next traffic light on green.

Both Time-to-Green and GLOSA will be activated for the start of operation in Ingolstadt in selected Audi models. These include all Audi e-tron models and the A4, A6, A7, A8, Q3, Q7 and Q8 to be produced from mid-July (“model year 2020”). The prerequisite is the “Audi connect Navigation & Infotainment” package and the optional “camera-based traffic sign recognition”.

Why is this function becoming available in Europe two years later than in the USA? 

The challenges for the serial introduction of the service are much greater here than, for example, in the USA, where urban traffic light systems were planned over a large area and uniformly. In Europe, by contrast, the traffic infrastructure has developed more locally and decentrally – with a great variety of traffic technology. How quickly other cities are connected to this technology depends above all on whether data standards and interfaces get established and cities digitalise their traffic lights.

On this project, Audi is working with Traffic Technology Services (TTS). TTS prepares the raw data from city traffic management centres and transmits them to the Audi servers. From here, the information reaches the car via a fast Internet connection.

Audi is working to offer Traffic Light Information in further cities in Germany, Europe, Canada and the USA in the coming years. In the large east Chinese city of Wuxi, Audi and partners are testing networks between cars and traffic light systems in the context of a development project.

In future, Audi customers may be able to benefit from additional functions, for example when “green waves” are incorporated into the ideal route planning. It is also conceivable that Audi e-tron models, when cruising up to a red traffic light, will make increased used of braking energy in order to charge their batteries. Coupled with predictive adaptive cruise control (pACC), the cars could even brake automatically at red lights.

In the long term, urban traffic will benefit. When cars send anonymised data to the city, for example, traffic signals could operate more flexibly. Every driver knows the following situation: in the evening you wait at a red light – while no other car is to be seen far and wide. Networked traffic lights would then react according to demand. Drivers of other automotive brands will also profit from the development work that Audi is carrying out with Traffic Light Information – good news for cities, which are dependent on the anonymised data of large fleets to achieve the most efficient traffic management.

In future, V2I technologies like Traffic Light Information will facilitate automated driving. 

A city is one of the most complex environments for an autonomous car. Nevertheless, the vehicle has to be able to handle the situation, even in rain and snow. Data exchange with the traffic infrastructure can be highly relevant here. 

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