At the moment, the Motobots (or pilot robots) have not taken their place from Rossi, Márquez, and company, but the truth is that technology is increasingly present in the MotoGP pits, especially, if we talk about everything related to The electronic. An example of this is in the Ducati Corse team, which currently works together with Lenovo both inside and outside the circuits.
We had the opportunity to spend a weekend with both companies to explain what this collaboration consists of. This data shows: although in MotoGP there is no telemetry like in Formula 1, the more than 40 electronic sensors that integrate a motorcycle can generate up to 30 GB of information in a single Grand Prix.
Analysis of data inside and outside the track
Ducati, in the hands of its official drivers Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci, is signing in 2019 its best start to the season. What is the key to that success? According to the General Manager of Ducati Corse, Luigi Dall’Igna (known as Gigi Dall’Igna), the most important thing in motorcycling is undoubtedly the pilot, but a part of the merit also corresponds to the motorcycle, and that percentage is the one that is distributed between the chassis, the engine, and the electronics.
A motorcycle of MotoGP, they tell us from Ducati, has integrated more than 40 sensors of different types: linear, rotary, gyroscopic and of measurement of the pressure, the force, the speed, the acceleration, the temperature and the vibrations. These sensors record about 10 GB of data every day of the three that a Grand Prix lasts. In total, therefore, there are 30 GB of data that is stored in real time in the data logger of the ECU (single switchboard) of the motorcycle.
The sensors store the data in the single control unit (ECU) of the motorcycle so that they are downloaded to the computers and servers when the pilot returns to the garage
Unlike what happens in Formula 1, where telemetry does exist, in the Motorcycling World Championship it is forbidden to send information from the box to the motorcycle and vice versa, so they are forced to perform the data dump when the motorcycle returns to the motorcycle. box, explains Gabriele Conti, head of the electronic systems department at Ducati.
All this information is downloaded by cable in computers (in this case, from Lenovo), where the track engineers, in addition to proceeding with the visualization of data, execute a rapid analysis program (usually during the night).
This analysis is used to make immediate decisions, such as changes in the configuration of the motorcycle or the correct choice of the tire. On many occasions, they tell us Conti and Dall’Igna, they even have to make some adjustments on the fly, between training and qualifying or between the training on Sunday and the race, for example.
Afterward, all these data are transferred from these computers to the tracking servers (also from Lenovo) to carry out a more exhaustive analysis, and from there, they are sent to the servers installed in the Ducati headquarters (Bologna), where the engineers there are available other tools to perform an in-depth analysis. The latter is useful for the next Grand Prix, but it is also taken into account when making decisions regarding the design of next year’s bike.
The computer equipment of Ducati
In the specific case of Ducati, Lenovo is the company that is responsible for providing computers, tablets, and servers inside and outside the circuits. In this equipment, we find, for example, ThinkPad P1 and ThinkPad X1 Carbon notebooks, ThinkPad P52 and ThinkPad L480 notebooks, ThinkStation P520 mobile stations, ThinkVision T24i, T24p and P27h monitors, convertible Yoga Book and Yoga 730, etc.
Why do they use each of this equipment? For example, at each pit stop, the data is transferred to the ThinkPad P1s workstation to do that quick scan we talked about earlier and display the data on the monitors. It is also quite common to see the Ducati General Manager with a ThinkPad P1 or a ThinkPad X1 in hand in the moments before a race.
In addition, within the truck that the team carries to each Grand Prix, Lenovo has installed two ThinkSystem SR630 servers that are responsible for collecting and processing all that data recorded by the sensors of the bikes.
There are also 15 high-performance servers at the Ducati headquarters in Borgo Panigale (Bologna), and another seven in the Global Cloud Data Center in Aruba, in Ponte San Pietro (Bergamo), where the information is sent to perform an analysis in depth, as we mentioned before. There, computer modeling systems allow Ducati to develop full simulations to predict the behavior of the bike before its wheels touch the track.
And finally, Lenovo provides Ducati security solutions because, as Conti and Dall’Igna say, after all, “a Motor Home is like a mobile office”, and we already know all the secrecy that exists in the computers of the MotoGP World … So, as expected, they have not wanted to reveal anything in this regard.
Will we see Lenovo technology on motorcycles?
Beyond all this “assignment” of assets for the MotoGP team, the alliance between Ducati Corse and Lenovo also includes the co-development and collaboration of the R & D departments, so that the engineers of both companies work together to create solutions that can be applied to motorcycles both short and long term.
n fact, according to the general director of Ducati Corse, “the part of collecting data we have already achieved, now we have to train machine learning and Artificial Intelligence to improve the analysis of that data on the track”.
And what solutions could we see in the future? The clearest example, they tell us from Lenovo, would be an Augmented Reality experience inside the helmet of the pilot that could offer crucial information such as race time, speed of the bike and the possible dangers of the circuit. Dall’Igna and Conti do not rule out the joint development of Lenovo devices that, in the future, can be integrated into the motorcycle. Moreover, they say that it is the next step of this alliance, but they do not tell us more about it.
“We spent more time watching data than piloting”
And from the point of view of the pilots, how do they perceive all these advances? To answer this question, we have spoken with one of Ducati’s official pilots, Danilo Petrucci. “It’s amazing how much technology and how many sensors are on board a motorcycle,” he says.
” You can lie, but the data does not, ” he continues, “without all this technology, it’s impossible to understand, for example, why you’re running slower than your teammate (Dovizioso, in this case) or why you’re doing worse a certain sector of the circuit “.
Danilo Petrucci: “Without all this technology, it is impossible to understand, for example, why you are running slower than your teammate”
When the motorcycle returns to the garage and the data is downloaded, the speed of each wheel, the angle of inclination, the braking, the acceleration, etc. are possible. And from there, says Petrucci, “you can compare your data with your partner to see where you lose time, where you are slowest.” And he concludes: “Unfortunately, we spent more time watching data than piloting, but it is the only way to improve piloting.”
Before leaving, we asked Petrucci if, in his personal life, he considers himself passionate about technology and responds, laughingly, not: “I am a man of the field and I like to enjoy my time training or doing activities outdoor”. In addition, he recognizes jokingly that, instead of buying a computer, he preferred to pay someone to use the computer for him.
Of course, he also confesses that he loves to write by hand and, therefore, always traveled with a small notebook or agenda to take notes. Now, however, he uses Yoga a lot “because he can write on it”. The nod to your technological partner that is not lacking, of course.