Combining Future Automotive Security with eSports

David Rogers explains the launch of something completely different for Copper Horse and why it isn’t.. well completely different.

During the 2020 lockdown, our company was busy in the early stages of an InnovateUK project called Secure-CAV, together with our partners from Siemens, the Universities of Coventry and Southampton. The project is looking at how to secure the Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) of the future, particularly at the lowest levels of the technology stack.

Using our experience in the mobile and IoT security space and particularly in hacking and securing hardware-level systems we have been working on a range of activities from real-world threat modelling through to dismantling and reverse engineering the hacking equipment used by criminals seeking to exploit vehicles in various different ways.

We had to adapt our ways of working such that we duplicated some of our equipment setups across the different partners and found new ways to collaborate. We also had access to some real vehicles which has helped us along the way.

One of the things that we wanted to do from early in the project was to be able to allow people to experience what it was like to be in a vehicle that was actively being hacked. Short of bringing people to test tracks and signing lots of insurance waivers, there aren’t many ways that this can be achieved. What we have done is to build a vehicle hacking simulator, which we’ve been able to feed telemetry from various simulators into to provide a ‘real’ physical experience. We’ll be talking a lot more about this in future blogs, but for now I want to tell you about something that came out of that work.

I have long been a big fan of different kinds of motor racing whether it be hill-climbing at Shelsley Walsh or Rallycross at Croft Circuit, so like many others during the various lockdowns, I decided to take up sim racing. This is a huge and passionate community and many of the real world racing teams are active in this esports world. Drivers including Rubens Barrichello, Jenson Button and George Russell are active sim racers. Whilst this is just the start of my journey, it is really enjoyable and it is nice to be able to compete in such a great community of people from around the world. There are some incredibly skilled drivers out there that would give some of the world’s best real-world drivers a run for their money.

With our Copper Horse Racing Team, I have begun competing in the Apex Online Racing Assetto Corsa Competizione GT3 Racing League, driving a Lamborghini Huracan GT3. We are competing in Tier 10 of the league – the Tier 1 and 2 races are broadcast each week online, with commentary.

Our car displays the logos of all our Secure-CAV project partners as well as You Gotta Hack That, not forgetting That Media Group for our fantastic vehicle livery.

Car Number 59 – the Copper Horse Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3

For the simulator itself, we’re running a DoF Reality P3 motion rig, an entry-level setup of G29 wheel and pedals and triple 31″ screens supported by the lesser-spotted Nvidia GeForce 3070 video card. We’ll do a proper walkthrough of the rig in another blog as we have a very special and interesting setup.

Our first race took place last Tuesday (the 4th of May 2021). I have to be honest, it was pretty nerve racking. The lap times were fast and the action was hot at the Circuit Paul Ricard in France.

A close finish at Circuit Paul Ricard

I managed to drive a clean race without damage (despite there being absolute carnage at turns 1 and 2 which will surprise no-one in the sim racing community!) and finished 28th, which I’ll take for a first race on a track that the Lamborghini was never going to be a fan of.

Passing an injured Aston Martin at Circuit Paul Ricard

Race 2 will take place tonight (the 11th of May 2021) and is at a very wet and rainy Donington Park in the UK, for all the different drivers, ranking through Tiers 2-10. You can see last night’s elite Tier 1 race below:

Tier 1 Donington Park Race

Drivers are able to get practice sessions in to try the conditions as well as a couple of practice races. The conditions are tough for this race – 100% wet and a very tight circuit which means passing (and allowing cars through on blue flags) can be quite difficult. What I’ve been rapidly learning over the past week is that the right setups can drastrically improve laptimes. You can watch live on my Twitch stream here from 7.30pm BST: https://www.twitch.tv/drogersuk

The full race calendar can be found at: https://apexonline.racing/league/19#calendar

A hard fought evaluation race at Spa-Fracorchamps, Belgium

I’m looking forward to tonight’s race and the rest of the season, whatever happens! I hope you’ll join us on this journey over the next few months as we explain what we’re doing on future automotive security and take our car hacking rig on what should be an incredible journey!