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How Technology is Helping Advance Sustainability in the Automotive Industry
As of 2018, the global electric car fleet exceeded 5.1 million, almost doubling in electric car sales from the year before – a trend that is likely to continue. Interestingly enough, the motorsport industry is also embracing electric vehicles. In 2014, Formula E racing, the world’s first electric street racing series sanctioned by the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile), launched its inaugural championship series. In the last six years, car manufacturers have piloted new technology on the racetrack to demonstrate advancements in electric vehicle mobility, trying to perfect it before rolling out to the mass market.
Currently, 12 teams compete in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship series, including Monaco-based team, ROKiT Venturi Racing. In 2018, Hewlett Packard Enterprises partnered with ROKiT Venturi Racing to become the team’s official Technology Partner for seasons 5-7, supporting critical team performance through transformational technology – both on and off the track.
As Season 6 kicks-off, HPE sat down with ROKiT Venturi Racing Team Principal, Susie Wolff, to talk about how technology is helping to advance sustainability within the sport and team operations.
Q: Your sport is the test bed for technological and sustainable development, how is ROKiT Venturi Racing working with its partners to raise awareness about the importance of transitioning to a low-carbon world?
From a technology standpoint, it’s very important that we work with partners like HPE that continue to have an impressive track-record (no pun intended) when it comes to reliable products and services, while also proving to have a low-carbon footprint. HPE is helping us with our overall IT infrastructure, with solutions like the HPE Edgeline EL1000 Converged Edge System, which helps us quickly compute data from the edge, in this case our steering wheel, to the cloud – facilitating operational efficiencies, while minimizing the amount of energy we use in the process.
We also have an international partnership with the Prince Albert of Monaco II Foundation. We work closely with the Foundation on a variety of sustainable innovation projects including Antarctica – the first electric vehicle designed to operate under the extreme conditions of the Antarctic. The goal behind this project is to demonstrate the feasibility of using zero-emission vehicles even under the most extreme conditions. Through our partnership, we also participate in the Ever Monaco Exhibition, which spotlights renewable energy and electric vehicles.
Q: You have previously mentioned that data is the team’s biggest currency. How will HPE solutions like computing at the edge help strengthen operational efficiencies and overall performance?
When it comes to racing, performance is everything and Formula E is no different. Teams that incorporate the best software, with the most reliable solutions, have a competitive advantage and are poised to perform amongst the top. Data management is a critical component in this equation. Working with HPE, our system speed and data server capacity has improved significantly, and has a real time impact on our team’s overall performance, from the preparation phase in the simulator at our factory in Monaco to the race itself.
Our races are one-day events, which doesn’t give us much time between stages to analyze and use our performance metrics. The majority of our work actually takes place before we even start the race. Our drivers do multiple simulator preparation sessions at our factory prior to the races, generating a huge amount of data. Our partnership with HPE helps us increase the speed at which we send our data from our factory to the race track, allowing our engineers to quickly analyze and use the performance metrics to redevelop strategies, if needed.
Q: ROKiT Venturi Racing has competed in Formula E racing since the inaugural season in 2014. Since then, what advancements in technology have played an important role to strengthen your sustainability efforts?
In prior seasons, drivers had to use two different cars to make it through the race. However starting last season, Gen2 Formula E cars were equipped with powered batteries that now allow drivers to complete a full race without having to switch vehicles. Eliminating the need for a second vehicle has a pretty significant environmental benefit in itself. Additionally, our tire manufacturer recently developed tires that are durable in both wet and dry conditions, so now we don’t have to change tires based on weather.
Keeping with Formula E's sustainable ethos, the Venturi team also does its best to keep sustainability top-of-mind off the track. We’ve implemented a waste management scheme and continue to work with our suppliers to account for sustainability in our decision making, whenever possible.
Q: As Formula E continues to attract more spectators, what role does the championship series play to educate fans on topics like environmental sustainability?
The visibility of the sport and our platform plays a huge role. We race in city centers of some of the most iconic cities around the world. Unlike other sporting events, we come to our spectators, not the other way around, and appeal to people who aren’t looking to pay for an expensive ticket to attend an event. The automobile industry is evolving pretty quickly, with a new generation of electric vehicles on the horizon. Some of the largest car manufacturers are leveraging Formula E to showcase their new technology before it hits the market. Due to the nature of our sport, speed and reliability is very important. Motorsport is helping manufacturers push the boundaries when it comes to electric mobility and that’s pretty exciting.
Q: What are your biggest environmental priorities for the next 3-5 years?
AI has been the subject of growing debate for some years in motorsport and could represent some very interesting and exciting opportunities from a sustainability perspective. It’s a conversation we continue to have with our partners, especially with HPE, but we don’t want to give too much away.
We are also focused on minimizing the environmental impact of our facility operations, looking at the amount of energy and water consumed, and waste generated. Part of this requires working closely with our employees to ensure they have the resources they need to minimize their footprint while at work. Another exciting project is the launch of a new team kit for Season 6, some of which is made from recycled plastics – a first for the Formula E.
Be sure to tune in to the 2019 – 2020 ABB FIA Formula E Championship, which starts on Friday, November 22.
For more information on how HPE and ROKiT Venturi Racing are working together, click here to listen to Susie Wolff’s interview with Dana Gardner.
Featured article: ROKiT Venturi Racing’s Susie Wolff: Calculated risks, a racing career reset, and finding the right balance via HPE's Enterprise.nxt
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