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UAV LiDAR Takes Pole Position in Project to Model the Rodin Cars Racing Test Track

Aerial survey and contour mapping of Rodin Cars racing test track

Driving along the remote Inland Kaikōura Road near Mt Lyford, the idyllic rural scenery is interrupted by the manicured grounds of a large sealed motor racing circuit. This is Wandle Downs, the home of high-performance racing car builders Rodin Cars, whose production facility and 3 stage test track sprawls over nearly 60ha of former farmland.

With the number of petrolheads working at Fox & Associates, it was perhaps surprising that we haven’t previously worked on any motorsport facilities, but when we were approached by Racing Sims in April 2022 to assist them in modelling the Rodin Cars test track for their professional level motor racing simulators, we jumped at the chance.

Racing Sims came to Fox & Associates because of our market leading high definition 3D data capture skills. In order to provide a realistic and immersive simulation experience they needed accurate data not just relating to the track but also the surrounding terrain and scenery. As well as LiDAR and aerial photography captured using the Innoflight Galaxy UAV, the work we undertook included a 360° video of the track. There may have been some competition between the staff members involved to decide who would drive the track. In the event, the Hi-Ace van was unlikely to present a serious challenge to the lap record, especially when moving at speeds suitable for data capture. A ‘Top Gear’ style challenge pitting one of Rodin’s cars against the Fox UAV was similarly out of the question.

Topographic Map of the Race Track
This image shows the topographic maps of the race track. On the Left is the topography overlayed on an aerial image. On the right is the topography as is.

This was the largest such survey we have ever undertaken in a single day, with the low- and high-altitude LiDAR surveys covering a total of 4.8km², and the accuracy standard specified by the client was one of the highest. As a result, the volume of data generated was the largest of any single project Fox & Associates has ever undertaken. Fortunately, 3d data specialist Phil Dewar was able to build on the skills and workflows developed in previous projects to merge the various streams of data together to produce the required results. Phil loves the challenge of efficiently processing large volumes of data, and of combining technologies to obtain the most accurate data possible.

The data delivered to Racing Sims included a digital terrain model, a high accuracy 3D point cloud and high-definition video and aerial photography. As with our work for HD Golf at the Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers Golf Courses, we hope one day we’ll get a chance to try out the simulations that use our data. In the meantime, the diversity of jobs like this one is part of what makes working at Fox & Associates Ltd such an adventure.

Digital Terrain Model of the Racetrack
This Digital Terrain Model shows a 3D image of the terrain of the race track.
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