Honda’s F1 engines boosted by IoT sensors and analytics
Honda’s F1 engines boosted by IoT sensors and analytics

Honda R&D is using IBM Watson’s IoT platform to monitor and analyse data from more than 160 IoT sensors on Formula One cars this season.

The news means that Formula One drivers and crews will now be able to use 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.”

Race engineers have typically pulled data, including timings and fuel flows, after the race, in order to adjust their racing strategies for future races. However, the sport is increasingly data-driven with drivers always connected and race decisions able to be influenced by live race data.

Honda, which returns to the sport as an R&D partner this season after leaving as a manufacturer back in 2008, has developed a new system to analyse data from the new F1 engines (also known as power units). This new system enables engineers to quickly and efficiently check residual fuel levels and estimate the possibility of mechanical problems.

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,” said Satoru Nada, chief engineer and manager, power unit development division, Honda R&D Co., Ltd. HRD Sakura.

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

Also read: Ford harnesses Internet of Things in mobility quest

Real-time data

Honda’s F1 racing cars are 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 cars which Honda sells to consumers.

In addition, 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 attempting to pass another racing car.

As a race is taking place, data is streamed to the cloud and shared with the pit crew teams equipped with tablet computers and mobile technology. The data can be analysed in real-time by researchers at HRD Sakura, Honda’s R&D facility in Japan, and at the McLaren Honda F1 team in the United Kingdom.

“With the rapid growth of the Internet of Things, by 2025, every car will be connected in some way exuding vast amounts of streaming data ranging from traffic updates to health of the vehicle, operations and more,” said Harriet Green, general manager, Watson IoT, commerce & education, IBM.

“We are excited to team with Honda to provide sophisticated cognitive IoT capabilities and analytics to combine data directly from the F1 racing vehicles with other sources, allowing Honda to not only enhance its vehicles that are built for speed, but to also be more friendly to our environment.”

IoT is old news for F1

Such partnerships are no longer unique of course, especially as ordinary road cars move to becoming more connected and autonomous in today’s shared economy world.

And in F1 these partnerships appear to be growing by the day; AT&T and Red Bull are working together on connectivity and data analytics (AT&T sends an  average of 400GB of real-time race day data to the trackside crews, the team’s UK headquarters, and to its engine manufacturer, Renault, in France), while Williams CIO Graeme Hackland has previously revealed how each car collects and analyses data from some 200 sensors.

McLaren’s technical director Caroline Hargrove spoke at length at the IoT Forum last year on how the car manufacturer applies the cutting-edge technologies it used in F1 – like IoT – into its commercial products, such as road cars and medical devices.

“Formula 1 has long been an early adopter of advanced telematics,” Tom Rebbeck, research director at Analysys Mason, told Internet of Business.

“The really interesting thing will be to see how this technology trickles down into standard production cars. Already last year, AT&T was adding more than 1 million car connections each quarter. By 2020, we expect that more than 250 million passenger cars will have embedded connectivity, each with some degree of the telematics being used by Honda for Formula 1.”

This story will be updated with further commentary from IBM Watson IoT when we have it…

Also read: This legendary F1 team leverages sensors and data for a competitive edge