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​Honda races ahead as IBM Watson takes Internet of Things to Formula One

James Henderson | March 28, 2016
Honda Research and Development is monitoring and analysing data from more than 160 sensors in Formula One cars using IBM Watson.

Honda Research and Development is monitoring and analysing data from more than 160 sensors in Formula One (F1) cars using IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

Now, drivers and crews can apply data and analytics in real-time to help streamline performance and improve fuel efficiency, enabling drivers to make real-time racing decisions based on this data, such as speed adjustments and pit stops.

The exciting world of motorsports has brought entertainment to fans worldwide for almost 100 years, and is known for the split-second reactions by drivers that make or break the race.

After a race, engineers would pull data, including timing and fuel flow, from the power unit to adjust racing strategies for the next race.

But today, the sport has evolved to one that is highly data driven with drivers always being connected.

Now, racing teams can analyse fast streaming power unit and driver data to adjust racing strategies in real-time, including ways to conserve fuel - all critical factors that can help to win the race.

And, in 2014, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), which governs Formula One racing, published new regulations that required all Formula One cars to use hybrid engines and limited fuel consumption during races, driving the sport to focus on developing more energy efficient automotive technologies.

To help mark its return to Formula One racing and reach new milestones in efficiency for both race cars and future consumer models, Honda R&D developed a new system to analyse data from hybrid engines, known as power units, to quickly and efficiently check residual fuel levels and estimate the possibility of mechanical problems.

As such, Honda is using the IBM IoT for Automotive solution, based on IBM Watson IoT technology, to deliver data generated from cars, including temperature, pressure and power levels, directly to the cloud for real-time analysis.

“Honda R&D is thrilled to work with IBM to mark its return to F1 racing, applying advanced IoT technologies to help ensure our drivers and teams are constantly connected,” says Satoru Nada, chief engineer and manager, Power Unit Development Division, Honda.

“We are bringing excitement to fans worldwide around the performance of our power unit and drivers, with the power of data and real-time analytics becoming a critical factor in winning races.”

Nada says Honda's F1 racing power unit is now also able to recover or save energy to use later during the race for more power.

For example, anytime the driver uses the brakes, the heat given off from friction can be captured and saved to the battery, similar to the hybrid vehicles Honda sells to consumers.

Or, the system will capture heat from the exhaust and save it as more energy in the battery as well. Then, the system can give the driver more power when he needs it, such as when passing another racer.


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