Honda Appoints IBM Watson To F1 Racing Team

With the buzz and excitement around the F1 Australian Grand Prix heating up in Melbourne, I’m like a kid in a candy store with the news that Honda has appointed a new member to their Formula One racing team – IBM Watson.

As the daughter of a car racing driver turned mechanical engineer, I grew up with the sounds of revving engines and the smell of engine oil.  Innocent questions about how a car works turned into lengthy lessons on fuel injection systems and chassis design.  My first driving lesson focused on how to “take a corner” with efficiency, evasive and defensive driving, and how to bring a car back under control after the wheels have spun out.

As my passion for data and analytics grew, my interest turned from how cars worked, to the role that data and analytics would play in what has always been a highly competitive sport, dominated by critical split-second decisions.

Formula One racing has changed significantly since I was a kid – gone are the days of no-holds-barred racing and dangerous pit stop fires.  With a greater focus on safety and leveling the playing field, F1 has become dominated by fuel conservation, race strategy and car mechanics.  Decisions such as when to make a pit stop, when to change tyres, when to go hard or back off, have become even more critical in determining a podium finish.

The newly announced partnership between Honda and IBM, will see over 160 sensors in F1 cars capture data ranging from driver timing and fuel flow rates, to engine performance, giving racing crews the chance to derive critical insight in order to improve strategies for the next race.

What’s even more exciting, is that pit crews and drivers will have access to this data during the race – allowing them to make critical decisions in real-time with the potential to impact the final result, such as when to make a pit stop and whether they need to adjust their speed.  Such insights become crucial when a tenth of a second can make all the difference in racing points and securing season sponsorships.

Honda will be leveraging the capabilities of IBM Internet of Things (IoT) for Automotive, built on the IBM Watson IoT Platform, to enable vehicle to cloud to vehicle communications.  New insights are developed from data flowing from cars, enhanced with external data such as geo-location, traffic, weather and other vehicles, to improve safety and information to drivers.  Used by companies around the world such as Scania, Panasonic Automotive and Moovel GmbH, IBM IoT for Automotive can be used to improve driver response time and profitability of fleets, identify potential and impeding problems before a breakdown or asset failure, and support systems engineering and continuous testing over a product’s lifecycle.

When Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button take to the track this weekend for McLaren Honda, they’ll be generating significant amounts of data and insight that can be streamed to the cloud and shared with pit crews and the team back in the UK and Japan.  With the help of IBM Watson IoT technology, the data can then be analysed to better understand the performance of the vehicle, driver and conditions, and make decisions that will feed into the future design not just of F1 cars, but across the Honda fleet sold to consumers.

So while Melbourne comes alive with the sounds of engines reverberating off the city skyscrapers, I’ll be facing a first world problem – do I cheer for my mate, IBM Watson, and the McLaren Honda team?  Or do I secretly wish for our very own Daniel Ricciardo to win on home soil?  While I know Dad will habitually watch the start and end of the race as that’s when “the most exciting stuff happens”, I’ll be patiently waiting in the months to follow to hear how this exciting partnership between Honda and IBM Watson develops.

PS>>  Go Ricciardo!!! 😉

Katrina Read Racing
My first racing car