McLaren brings F1 comms tech to UK rail

Network Rail in the UK has rolled out new antenna and software solutions, supplied by McLaren Applied. According to the latter, the Fleet Connect software and 5G Edge Active Antenna are derived from the company’s efforts in relation to Formula 1 motor racing.

The equipment has been deployed on 14 of the railway operator’s infrastructure monitoring trains. Describing the technology, a spokesperson said: “This first implementation of Active Antenna technology in the UK brings a new, simplified approach to on-train connectivity infrastructure, and an advanced capability for data offload on the move.

“The combined tech solution delivers far greater connectivity and performance, with Network Rail registering upload data improvements of up to one thousand times faster than previous systems. [This means] upload speeds of up to 70MB/s per train versus 76kB/s previously.” 

Infrastructure monitoring trains are used to check the conditions of bridges, tunnels and viaducts, as well as the track itself. A new ‘measurement train’ meanwhile records data apparently derived from its 60,000 miles of travel every year.

Director of the connected intelligence business unit at McLaren Applied, Pablo Garcia Lopez, said: “The roll out of Fleet Connect software and cutting-edge Active Antenna hardware is a great example of how British ingenuity and engineering - along with cross industry knowledge - can solve prominent challenges in the transport sector.

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