E-racer takes on real-life race car using 4G and 5G from Rakuten Mobile
Real-time synchronous communication powered by Rakuten Mobile enables real and virtual racing at Japan’s Fuji Speedway race circuit and the Rakuten Mobile Ebisu Store.
Real and virtual race cars shared the Fuji Speedway race circuit and Rakuten Mobile Ebisu Store in Japan in a successful demonstration utilizing 4G and 5G mmWave provided by Rakuten Mobile. On October 23, 2022, a special race was held at the 2022 Inter Proto Series POWERED BY KeePer Round 2 that fused the real and the virtual through the remote transmission of driving data, as well as the display of virtual car and car racing information in real-time in AR.
The demonstration was conducted simultaneously at two different locations. At the Fuji Speedway race circuit, a real vehicle dubbed “Kuruma” took on e-racers using a racing simulator at the Rakuten Mobile Ebisu Store in central Tokyo, a couple of prefectures away. Kuruma, a Japanese race car designed from scratch for the Inter Proto Series and driven by a real-life driver, used data from both sources to run on the Fuji Speedway circuit.
Creating a real-time, realistic e-racing experience
A telemetry system provided by M-TEC Co., Ltd. transmitting car data, including steering angle, accelerator and brake pedal pressure, GPS, and cameras installed in the test car running at Fuji Speedway, enabled the display of an equivalent virtualized test car for e-racing directly in a game simulator at Rakuten Mobile’s Ebisu Store.
5G mmWave from Rakuten Mobile was used for communication between the racing simulator and the game server, resulting in a high-octane, real-time racing experience for the e-racer.
Virtual spectators get in on the action
Spectators at Fuji Speedway wore smart glasses or held up smartphones equipped with a dedicated mobile app developed by Rakuten Mobile over the track to view the race between both the real-life test car in front of them and the virtual car in AR driven by the e-racer competing in Tokyo. In addition, driving data such as car position, speed and engine speed generated by both the test car and virtual car in motion, the perspective video from the onboard camera of the racing driver, and the game screen video of the e-race were also streamed on the app.
The success of the demonstration can be attributed to pioneering work done by three companies: Inter Proto Motor Sports Co., Ltd., M-TEC Co., Ltd., and Immersal Ltd, all of which are participants in the Rakuten Mobile Partner Program.
Participants and organizers react
Following the successful completion of the demonstration, we sat down for a chat with a few of the people who helped make it happen.
“It was my first time competing against a professional driver actually driving a car on the circuit, so I was very excited,” said Ikuma Kawato, an e-racer for the ZENKAIRACING e-Sports team. “It felt very real, as if we were actually competing together on the race circuit.”
“With the e-race as a catalyst, we are seeing more and more children interested in becoming professional drivers in the real world,” noted Mao Yamanaka, a race car driver for the Good Ride Motorsport team. “This kind of initiative could really help to foster that interest and train young people to become racers one day.”
Masanori Sekiya, CEO of Inter Proto Motor Sports Co., Ltd., commented, “I was very happy to be able to see the competition between real and virtual cars, just as I had always dreamed of. I hope that such initiatives will continue to develop in the future, and that children will become interested in e-racing and motorsports, and will come and visit race venues.”
“We were able to make the driving data that was precisely measured by the telemetry system clearly available to people who are not technicians through AR displays and games, ” shared Hirokazu Sakurai, Deputy General Manager of the MotorSports Division and Electrical Equipment Development Section Manager at M-TEC. “After the experiment was over, there was spontaneous applause on site. I was very happy that we were able to achieve this as a single team by cooperating with the many people involved.”
When asked for his thoughts on the joint demonstration experiment, Ryo Kudo, Business Solution Planning Department, 5G Division, Rakuten Mobile, shared,”Thanks to the cooperation of our partner companies, we were able to make new efforts in the motorsports industry. By using 5G (mmWaves) for communication between the racing simulator and game server, I feel that we were able to create a realistic racing experience. In addition, following [AR demonstrations at] Noevir Stadium Kobe, we were able to confirm that the use of Immersal Ltd’s VPS (Visual Positioning System) technology at Fuji Speedway would enable AR content to be displayed with high accuracy at our designated location.”
Editor’s notes: Inter Proto Motor Sports Co., Ltd., M-TEC Co., Ltd., and Immersal Ltd are participating companies in the Rakuten Mobile Partner Program, a co-creation program hosted by Rakuten Mobile. For details about the participating companies, please see the links below.
・Inter Proto Motor Sports (*Japanese only page)
・M-TEC (*Japanese only page)