a laboratory of ideas for the vehicles of tomorrow

The first one car race was organized on July 22, 1894. It then linked Paris to Rouen and had around twenty competitors in the running. It was an opportunity to test aerodynamic bodies and alternative engines, even overpowering (for the time). This is how in 1899, during a speed race, « The Never Happy » exceeded 105 km/h with its torpedo face and its engine… electric ! An approach that is now found in the context of Supercars and even Hypercars that seek to push the limits of the possible in terms of design. From the 2000s, the performance in terms of velocity have however given way to more reasoned ambitions.

Accused of favoring pollution and CO2 emissions by using the rubber on the asphalt of the circuits, the sports car has therefore revised its copy by makingecology a major component to consider. On the stands as well as within the product ranges of builders concerned. Since it is now common to find, within the stables, a R&D department dedicated to the application of these innovations towards so-called passenger vehicles, feedback from the world of motor racing is now benefiting the general public.

Motorsport, engine of progress

Through this ability to exploit motorsport engineeringbrands have indeed been able to bridge the gap between an immediate need for technology proven, specialized prototyping and mass marketing low-carbon solutions. Witness the four-wheel drive or the active suspension which are now integrated into the everyday vehicles. Because : «  Motorsport is a universe where each of the players constantly seeks to surpass themselves, to innovate in order to be the best. This state of mind permeates throughout the brandeven in teams that are not directly involved in competition », argues Robert Bonetto. Director of Engineering at Alpine Cars also describes the working process in force within the constructor : «  We have regular business meetings in the areas of materials, aerodynamics for example, between F1 teams and road car engineering to identify solutions that could most easily be transposed. This generates interesting ideas and a healthy emulation ! »

Driving new mobility

Because the sports car demand to inject large sums of money into the development of winning, even revolutionary technologies, manufacturers have every interest in make these investments profitable by transposing them onto their production lines series vehicles. In any case, this is approved Jean-Éric Vergne, DS driver Techeetah in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship. For him, «  Motorsport has always been a laboratory for new technologies. It started with disc brakes or the seat belt and continues in Formula Ea sector that induces electrical technologies of the future, in line with manufacturers’ strategies. »

With this in mind, Jean-Éric Vergne was heavily involved in the design of the DS Energy Coach app which allows the driver to learn to optimize energy recovery during braking phases. Available from the central screen of the latest DS models, in particular the DS 9 sedan, this tool therefore contributes to improving energy performance of the vehicle, like on the Formula E tracks. «  The difference between a good driver and a driver who does not win a race is the understanding of the Energy management. So I wanted to put my knowledge at the service of DS users to give them a better understanding of their vehicle and help them enjoy driving while having a positive impact on battery life »justifies Jean-Eric Vergne.

Take the turn of data exploitation

On average, a sports car is equipped with over 200 telemetry sensors to collect valuable race data. These will then be dissected in the factories of the brands in order to obtain crucial information on the performance of the vehicles but also the possible areas of improvement concerning software deployment and biases in electronic communications. Thereby, «  at Alpine, we use these AI-based data analytics solutions to strengthen the development of our electric cars with a view to making them even more reliable and enabling our customers, tomorrow, to further personalize these vehicles for different uses »says the engineering director ofAlpine Cars.

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The electronic technology used in the sports car also intends to influence the functioning of autonomous vehicles which require the real-time examination of several hundred pieces of data per second. And although «  these innovations may take some time to be adapted to our road carsthe basic physical principles are the same »says Robert Bonetto.

Find the entire file in issue 278 of the magazine L’Automobile & L’Entreprise

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