Yamaha Tech3 tuning
The varying approaches to racing electronics within the GP campaign were highlighted in my visit with Andrew Griffith, data engineer for one of Yamaha's two factory MotoGP teams. Griffith began with a Motorsport Engineering degree from Swansea University in Wales, eventually distributing his graduate research project up and down the pit lane to land his job in MotoGP.
Griffith said there are teams using "in-house" ECUs, such as Honda and Ducati, but like Kawasaki, Yamaha Tech3 is using Magneti Marelli for engine control and 2D Systems for datalogging and sensory systems.
While sharing similarities with Kawasaki's approach, Griffith's team has gone to a full throttle-by-wire system. Physical cables from throttle to engine bay still exist--to provide the rider a conventional feel--but Yamaha has chosen to fully interject stepper-motor throttle body control between the rider's physical input and engine response.
image to enlarge.
Yamaha too employs a vast array of sensors on the motorcycle, along with accelerometers and gyros that track bike movement. GPS is on-board for data-tagging, but Griffith echoed Dosoli's comment about the tenuous nature of GPS as a reliable real-time control positioning input. To the larger point, Griffith spoke of the need for control-system simplicity because overly complex approaches breed their own set of safety issues.
Though "turned off for qualifying sessions," TCS and wheelie control are areas of focus for Yamaha during the race. The many other sensors onboard may play a role in TCS but "front- and rear-wheel speed differences are the key parameters you have to have to make it work" said Griffith. Since riders sometimes need to get a little loose, Griffith indicated it's more about controlling a window of allowable spin versus demanding full traction full-time.
To this end, Griffith and his team seem to appreciate the need for a rider to feel in control of the bike. When a racer's inputs sometimes contradict the data-implied optimums for settings and setup, an approach that delivers comfort and confidence over sterile computer-driven "optimization" is what's best.
Like its competitors, Yamaha can't stand still in development however. The team is employing a "new philosophy this year," but Griffith didn't reveal much more due to competitive issues. When asked about the development of a position-based, real-time, autonomous control system, the only response was a grin and the suggestion that this "was one possible direction" for the team. The silence spoke loudly enough to suggest such an approach is certainly on their minds if not on their motorcycles.