MotoGP, electronics revolution: unified Inertial Measurement Unit starting in 2019

JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA, SPAIN - MAY 04: Jorge Lorenzo of Spain and Ducati Team lifts the front wheel during the MotoGp of Spain - Free Practice at Circuito de Jerez on May 4, 2018 in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. (Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)

Electronics in MotoGP is what tips the balance on track, and it is what allowed Honda and Ducati to make huge steps ahead hiring specialized electronic engineers belonging to Magneti Marelli’s school. It also made Yamaha lose some ground as they lost expert professionals such as Andrea Zugna, Lorenzo Carlo Luzzi and Cristian Battaglia. Starting in 2019, electronics will have to go through another revolution as Inertial Measurement Unit will be unified. This new regulation could benefit Iwata’s firm, who decided to solve all its electronics issues without hiring external engineers.

UNIFIED IMU – Thanks to Dorna’s insistence and the team’s approval, starting from next season all IMUs will be unified. This will reduce production costs thanks to the fact that investments won’t have to divided among different developers anymore. The main priority is to reduce the performance gap between bikes, in order to give spectators the best possible show. This new rule will give MotoGP enthusiast the chance to enjoy fiercer fights and close-range duels compared to the current races, especially after the introduction of control units and unified software.

WHAT’S IMU? – It is an innovative detector that measures the bike’s inclination and its accelerations and decelerations, then sending these data to a control unit that processes them together with data coming from other detectors (ride by wire, traction control, anti-wheelies, and so on) to obtain the best engine distribution. The IMU has an internal processing capacity, so that one could install (and develop) the logic of a proprietary software (the official ones, that should theoretically be illegal): this would allow each firm to maintain its own systems and advantages despite the unified electronics. The IMU has a programmable “brain” that can receive “personal” data, but this goes against MotoGP technical regulations.

END OF THE ILLICIT – For Dorna technicians that will have to check on the system, it will be almost impossible to find out alterations. Basically, the IMU is a computer linked to a CAN line that could receive a number of inputs different from the one required by Dorna standards, therefore waiving the output and altering the unified software logic. This would allow, for example, a longer preservation of the rear tire that will, in turn, make the rider’s last laps faster (in this respect, Yamaha is very late compared to Honda and Ducati). With unified IMUs the next Grand Prix could give us much closer bikes, face-to-face battles and higher chances of watching spectacular accidents. The show must go on!

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