Eviden is a next-gen technology leader in data-driven, trusted, and sustainable digital transformation. With a strong portfolio of patented technologies and worldwide leading positions in advanced computing, security, AI, cloud, and digital platforms, Eviden provides deep expertise for a multitude of industries in more than 47 countries. Eviden is an AWS Premier partner, bringing together 47,000 world-class talents and expanding the possibilities of data and technology across the digital continuum, now and for generations to come. Eviden is an Atos Group company with an annual revenue of over €5 billion.

We are passionate about our people improving their skills, and support the development of the next generation of cloud-centered talent. Although fundamental knowledge gained through training and certification is important, there’s no substitute for getting hands-on. We complement individual learning with hands-on opportunities, including Immersion Days, Gamedays, and using AWS DeepRacer.

AWS DeepRacer empowers users to train reinforcement learning models on the AWS Cloud and race them around a virtual track. Unlike traditional programming, where you define the desired output, AWS DeepRacer allows you to define rewards for specific behaviors, such as going faster or staying centered on the track. This hands-on experience gives learners an excellent opportunity to engage with the AWS Management Console and develop Python-based reward functions, fostering valuable skills in cloud-centered technologies and machine learning (ML).

To elevate the event experience and streamline the management of their global AWS DeepRacer series, Eviden adopted the open source AWS DeepRacer Event Manager (DREM) solution. In this post, we discuss the benefits of DREM and the experience for racers, event staff, and spectators.

Introducing AWS DeepRacer Event Manager

AWS DeepRacer Event Manager is an innovative application that Eviden has deployed within its own AWS environment. Comprised of AWS Cloud-centered services, DREM is designed to simplify the process of hosting in-person AWS DeepRacer events, while also delivering a more engaging and immersive experience for both participants and spectators.

With their prior experience hosting AWS DeepRacer events in the UK, Eviden sought to expand the reach of this exciting initiative globally. By adopting the DREM solution, Eviden’s experienced event staff in the UK were able to seamlessly support their counterparts in hosting AWS DeepRacer events for the first time in locations such as Bydgoszcz, Paris, and Pune. The DREM solution empowers Eviden to seamlessly configure and manage their global AWS DeepRacer events. Within the platform, each event location’s AWS DeepRacer cars are registered, enabling remote configuration and model uploads powered by AWS Systems Manager. Additionally, a Raspberry Pi device is registered at each location to serve as an integrated timing solution, which uses DREM’s data-driven racing capabilities to capture and report critical performance metrics for each racer, such as best lap time, average lap time, and total laps completed.

Furthermore, the deep integration between DREM’s timing solution and the event’s streaming overlay has enabled Eviden to deliver a significantly more engaging experience for both in-person attendees and remote viewers, so everyone can stay fully informed and immersed in the action throughout the event.

The following diagram illustrates the DREM architecture and components.

Racer experience

For racers, the DREM experience begins with registration, during which they are encouraged to upload their AWS DeepRacer models in advance of the event. Authentication is seamlessly handled by Amazon Cognito, with out-of-the-box support for a local Amazon Cognito identity store, as well as the flexibility to integrate with a corporate identity provider solution if required. After the registered racers have uploaded their models, DREM automatically scans for any suspicious content, quarantining it as necessary, before making the verified models available for the racing competition.

Event staff experience

For the event staff, the DREM solution greatly simplifies the process of running an AWS DeepRacer competition. User management, model uploading, and naming conventions are all handled seamlessly within the platform, eliminating any potential confusion around model ownership. To further enforce the integrity of the competition, DREM applies MD5 hashing to the uploaded models, preventing any unauthorized model sharing between racers. Additionally, the DREM interface makes it remarkably straightforward and efficient to upload multiple models to the AWS DeepRacer cars, providing a far superior experience compared to the cars’ native graphical UI. DREM also simplifies the management of the AWS DeepRacer car fleets and Raspberry Pi timing devices, empowering the event staff to remotely remove models, restart the AWS DeepRacer service, and even print user-friendly labels for the cars, making it effortless for racers to connect to them using the provided tablets.

To further streamline the event management process, DREM provides pre-built scripts that enable seamless registration of devices, which can then be fully managed remotely. The timekeeping functionality is automatically handled within DREM, using Raspberry Pi devices, pressure sensors, and pressure sensor trimming—either through custom DIY modifications or the use of the excellent Digital Racing Kings boards. The DREM timekeeping system represents a significant improvement over the alternative solutions Eviden has used in the past. It captures critical race metrics, including remaining time, all lap times, and the fastest lap. Additionally, the system provides an option to invalidate a lap, such as in cases where a car went off-track. After a racer has completed their runs, the data is securely stored in DREM, and the leaderboard is automatically updated to reflect the latest results.

Spectator experience

As a global systems integrator, Eviden was determined to deliver a truly spectacular experience, not only for the onsite participants in their AWS DeepRacer finals, but also for those in the room observing the event, as well as remote viewers racing using a proxy or simply interested in watching the competition unfold. To achieve this, Eviden took advantage of the DREM solution’s seamlessly integrated streaming overlay and leaderboard capabilities, which kept all attendees, both in-person and online, fully engaged and informed of the current standings throughout the event.

In previous AWS DeepRacer events, participants had to rely on someone in the room to verbally communicate lap times and remaining race time. However, with DREM, both the racers and spectators have instant access to all the critical timing information, keeping everyone fully up to date. This was especially beneficial for remote participants, who could now clearly see which cars were on the track and follow the progress of their fellow racers, with the streaming overlay dynamically updating to display the top positions on the leaderboard.

In addition, DREM offers a dedicated webpage displaying the complete leaderboard, which can be conveniently shown on screens in the event space, as well as allow remote attendees to follow the competition progress from other locations throughout the day.

The significant improvements to the event experience were clearly reflected in the feedback received from this year’s participants:

“Joining remotely was superb.”
“Remote interaction over teams was much improved this year.”
“The physical event was excellent, well attended, and ran very smoothly.”
“Loved it, even though I was attending remote.”
“The event itself was fantastic, with each stage being well-planned and organized. The on-site atmosphere exceeded my expectations, making it an incredible event to be part of.”

Well-architected

The DREM solution has been meticulously designed with a well-architected approach. From the event organizer’s perspective, the peace of mind of knowing that DREM is secured using AWS WAF, Amazon CloudFront, and AWS Shield Standard, with user management seamlessly handled by Amazon Cognito, is invaluable. Additionally, the platform’s role-based access control (RBAC) is managed through AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), applying least-privilege policies for enhanced security.

The DREM solution is built entirely using AWS Cloud-centered technologies, delivering inherent performance efficiency and reliability. When Eviden is not actively hosting events, there is minimal ongoing activity in the DREM environment, consisting primarily of standing items such as AWS WAF rules, CloudFront distributions, Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) buckets, Amazon DynamoDB tables, and Systems Manager fleet configurations. However, during event periods, DREM seamlessly scales to use AWS Lambda, Amazon EventBridge, AWS Step Functions, and other serverless services, dynamically meeting the demands of the event hosting requirements.

Owing to the well-architected nature of the DREM solution, the platform is remarkably cost-effective. When not actively hosting events, the DREM environment incurs a minimal cost of around $6–8 per month, the majority of which is attributed to the AWS WAF protection. During event periods, the costs increase based on the number of users and models uploaded, but typically only rise to around $15 per month. To further optimize ongoing costs, DREM incorporates measures such as an Amazon S3 lifecycle policy that automatically removes uploaded models after a period of 2 weeks.

Conclusion

Are you interested in elevating your own AWS DeepRacer events and delivering a more engaging experience for your participants? We encourage you to explore the AWS DeepRacer Event Manager solution and see how it can transform your event management process.

To get started, visit the GitHub repo to learn more about the solution’s features and architecture. You can also reach out to the Eviden team or your local AWS Solutions Architect to discuss how DREM can be tailored to your specific event requirements.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to take your AWS DeepRacer initiatives to the next level. Explore DREM and join us at an upcoming AWS DeepRacer event today!

About the authors

Sathya Paduchuri is a Senior Partner Solution Architect(PSA) at Amazon Web Services. Sathya helps partners run optimised workloads on AWS, build and develop their cloud practice(s) and develop new offerings.

Mark Ross is a Chief Architect at Eviden and has specialised in AWS for the past 8 years, gaining and maintaining all AWS certifications since 2021. Mark is passionate about helping customers build, migrate to and exploit AWS.  Mark has created and grown a large AWS community within Eviden.

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