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MotoGP bike has just become one of the most sophisticated IoT “devices” in this era
December 31, 2018 News


In today’s high tech world, data has become an important tool for organisations and industries to make future decisions, even in the world of motor racing. For Ducati, having good data management is also as important. Realising this, Ducati Corse MotoGP has partnered with NetApp, a data-driven company, to help with the company’s digital transformation goal.

The initiative has provided them with insights into a digitally-connected motorcycle, using data to log a variety of parameters that ultimately pushed racer Andrea Dovizioso across the finish line with a pivotal 0.027 seconds faster than his competitors at the first MotoGP race in Qatar this year.

Real-time insights derived from the latest data analytics technologies have enabled the Ducati team to drive better, faster, and make full use of the riders’ experience and expertise to reach the peak of motorsports performance.

According to Ducati Telemetry Engineer, Gabriele Conti, data has increased in the last year. “Until 2005, we didn’t have that much data, so we’d use CD or DVD to bring back the data to our factory, but after 2006 we started to collect data to do deep analysis on the track.

“We are now strong in terms of data collection, and what we need to improve on is to have things like machine learning that is quicker than a human engineer to do the data analysis on the many riders that we have,” he says.

Conti says some deep analysis tools need 12 hours to analyse one rider’s performance for a race, which is deemed as not quick enough and, therefore not very useful, on the track. He says the partnership with NetApp has enabled the Ducati team to have quicker access to real-time data from any circuit in any part of the world.

The simulations Ducati carries out is powered by NetApp technologies. For example, Ducati has been able to make its race bikes perform better and work smarter with each telemetry data analysis and virtual simulation. The mobile data centre is usually driven or flown to each race location and must survive the vibrations and shock of transport to operate across the season’s wide range of environmental conditions.

From left: NetApp senior technical consultant for Malaysia and Brunei Oon Chew Boon, Gabriele and Azrin Abd Shukor.

The NetApp’s FAS8200 storage allows for storage of race data at the onsite mobile data centre securely. Meanwhile, NetApp Hyper Converged Infrastructure (HCI) provides easy access and effective management of telemetry and race data through Flash technology.

This allows for quicker download and upload of race data and enables faster and more accurate analysis and race simulations in real-time. It also connects better with the rider, allowing for a more intuitive and seamless experience between rider and bike.

In terms of recovery, NetApp’s SnapMirror provides secure data archiving together with a second site housed in a large local cloud service provider. This enables effective backup and disaster recovery and ensures that the Ducati team will never experience any downtime before, during and after a race.

The MotoGP bike for Ducati is the Ducati Desmosedici GP. With more than 60 sensors constantly logging different parameters including brake temperatures and engine behaviour, each bike on the Ducati Team collects more than 8GB of data at each practice session, and more than 20GB of data at each race.

The Ducati Desmosedici GP weighs only 157kg, and can reach a maximum speed of over 350km/h. With an engine capacity of 1,000cc, the bike has a maximum power of over 250hp, runs on a liquid-cooled 90-degree V4, four-stroke, evo desmodromic DOHC engine with four valves per cylinder.

Conti says there are large numbers of data to go through which include different levels of analysis: The engineers checking everything and working with the riders, machine learning software that goes through the collected data to look for weak areas, and a deeper analysis software back at HQ in Italy analysing for the next race.

“Usually at pit stops, riders describe their feelings as they race through the circuit. Combined with the data acquired through NetApp technologies, a new setup is deployed in minutes and uploaded in the bike to allow the rider to push stronger at every turn and get even better performances at every lap,” says Conti.

Unlike Formula One, there is no real-time data flow between the bikes and the software. All connection with the bike can only be done when it comes in at the end of each session. This regulation has been set by the MotoGP’s rule making body.

Beyond actual race day data, available at the onsite mobile data centre, NetApp also enables Ducati to store and access archive data from previous years’ races that sit in their hybrid cloud infrastructure and managed by the Ducati race team headquarters in Italy. This data can also be accessed onsite and in real-time during each race.

NetApp country manager, Malaysia and Brunei, Azrin Abd Shukor, says previously the company was only a supplier of storage and equipment to Ducati.

Only in March this year Ducati announced the partnership with NetApp and also became the official sponsor in the 2018 MotoGP World Championship.

“We are helping Ducati transform themselves from a traditional motorcycle manufacturer to a digital-based company. NetApp also provides the platform for the team to achieve their Ducati digital experience where they envision that riders can talk to their bikes before, during and after the ride. They want connected bikes that are able to advise riders and let them know that their bike is in prime condition before a race,” says Azrin.

He adds that the partnership is also making a difference in real life because all the data acquired is translated into Ducati’s commercial bikes which makes them more reliable, easier to ride, and perhaps even save lives.