Advancing Life & Work

Innovation in the fast lane

Take a behind-the-scenes look at how HPE technology is empowering the DS Virgin Racing team at Formula E—and driving the auto industry to a more sustainable future. 


Talk about acceleration and exhilaration. It’s not every day you see innovation come to life right in front of you—at 140 mph!

I had the fabulous opportunity recently to attend the DS Virgin Racing Innovation Summit and the FIA Formula E Championship’s Long Beach ePrix event. This is the world’s first fully electric racing series featuring single-seater, open-wheel cars, which are very similar in appearance to Formula One racers. Formula E is the first sport to provide a framework for sustainable mobility and electric car research and development.

Everything at the ePrix takes place at hyper speed. Preparation, practice sessions, qualifying rounds and the race are all jam-packed into one spectacular Saturday.

At these world-class competitive levels, lightning-fast analysis of big data and diagnostic analytics is key to the success of a Formula E team. Throughout every stage of the competition sensors are capturing performance data—from the driver, the engines, the tires, and the track. Some data is transmitted live, but most gets downloaded only after the car gets back to the garage, so it needs to be analyzed and acted on immediately. Unstructured data like video is also analyzed to improve the drivers’ techniques.

That’s where HPE comes in. HPE is helping DS Virgin accelerate efficiency by exploring the boundaries of electric car technology. As the official IT partner to DS Virgin Racing, we provide the team with analytical tools and the networking equipment required to transfer the data to where it's needed as quickly as possible.


DS Virgin Racing team reviews insights from performance at Formula E race in Long Beach, Calif.DS Virgin Racing team reviews insights from performance at Formula E race in Long Beach, Calif.The data the DS Virgin team receives from its car’s sensors is connected through a network infrastructure powered by two HPE Moonshot servers. One is on site with the team, while the other is at the DS Virgin headquarters in England. Moonshot uses 90 percent less space, 65 percent less energy and 98 percent less cabling than traditional server architecture, making it incredibly portable. Our Vertica software then analyzes the data to ensure the team’s racing engineers can assess the car’s performance and make adjustments in real-time. It was exciting to watch the drivers and team personnel working directly with the HPE-provided technology between practice and qualifying sessions in preparation for the big race.

On the eve of the race, I participated in a panel discussion at the DS Virgin Racing Innovation Summit. Here I debated issues relating to mobility and sustainability with fellow panelists, Alejandro Aga, CEO, Formula E Holdings; George Whitesides, CEO, Virgin Galactic; and Steve Pazol, General Manager of Wireless Charging and Board Member of Formula E for Qualcomm Inc.

Our discussion made it very clear that while this is a great story of big data helping the team in the short term, the longer term benefits are far more important. HPE and DS Virgin are here to help the planet. We’re all committed to using a high-profile showcase like Formula E as a platform for the technologies that can transform the auto industry and accelerate the adoption of electric cars by the general public. And this puts HPE in the driver’s seat for the many technologies that will come from electric and connected cars (pun intended!).

What happened in the DS Virgin Racing garage at the event was people, ideas and technology connecting—coming together to solve the world’s biggest challenges. It was a pleasure to see Living Progress coming to life at this exciting event.


About the Author


Chris Librie is the former Senior Director of HPE Living Progress, HPE’s approach to sustainability and corporate citizenship.