Everything You Wanted To Know About MotoGP's 2016 Unified Software, But Were Afraid To Ask

2016 heralds a new era for MotoGP. Two major changes take place to the technical regulations: Michelin replaces Bridgestone as the official tire supplier (for more background on that, see the interview we did at Brno with Michelin boss Piero Taramasso), and everyone will be forced to switch to the spec electronics package, managed by Dorna and developed by Magneti Marelli.

Much confusion surrounds the introduction of spec electronics. Firstly, because there are so very few people who actually understand the role of electronics in motorcycle racing, it being a dark and mysterious art for fans, media, even riders. Secondly, because the adoption of spec electronics has been a process of constant negotiation between manufacturers, Dorna and Magneti Marelli, as they try to reach a compromise which is acceptable to all parties. That has resulted in the rules being changed a number of times, with such changes not always being communicated directly or clearly to outside parties.

So where do we stand now, and what is the process? I spoke to Corrado Cecchinelli, Dorna's head of technology for MotoGP, on progress with the electronics, and especially the spec software package, ahead of the 2016 season.

The 2016 MotoGP Hardware Package

The first thing to clear up was which hardware would be allowed. The 2016 hardware package had undergone a number of changes in the past 18 months, but now, a final agreement has been reached. The original proposal was to have a single, spec package, as is the case with the current Open class bikes this year and last. But the manufacturers raised objections after receiving feedback from the Open class teams of erratic behavior from the spec hardware sensors. A source at one Open class team told me that, for example, the gyroscopes measuring lean angle had sometimes been wrong by several degrees.

As a result, the hardware package has been revised. The hardware for all MotoGP bikes will basically be the same as the current Factory Option bikes. That means that the spec ECU (the computer which receives inputs from sensors and controls outputs such as ignition and fueling) will be compulsory, but the rest of the hardware package will not be controlled. All sensors must be submitted to Dorna for homologation, and can only be used once they have received approval from the Technical Director.

Cecchinelli explains: "[The manufacturers] will just have to submit the sensors to homologation. The dashboard, the switchboard and the inertial platform, which now are compulsory for the Open riders, they will not be compulsory next year in the unified software scenario."

Sensor Quality Assurance

The reason for factories being allowed to use their own sensors was because they had built relationships with suppliers, and knew those sensors to be reliable. The data coming from the sensors was the same, but each manufacturer had more confidence in the quality of the data from their preferred sensor partners. "Every manufacturer has their own preferences and traditions and parts that they approve and find reliable, good for their scope, and they are not the same for all. They are used to certain sensors, and they don't want to change, because they feel they are reliable, for their purpose, and so on," Cecchinelli said.

The data should be identical, but it was more a matter of quality assurance. "For the hardware which is different, it's more a matter of reliability and quality process, proprietary quality process, so you get to the end of it by taking your decision on this, say, air temperature sensor, and you want to stick with that." Cecchinelli did not expect compatibility issues, as the Magneti Marelli ECU uses industry standard connectors, inputs and outputs, there was a process in place to allow non-compatible parts to be made compatible and then homologated.

There had been some minor controversy in the past over the use of inertial platforms, the sensor package which uses a system of gyroscopes and accelerometers to measure bike attitude and acceleration, or in other words, lean angle, whether the bike is pitching forward under braking or back under acceleration, and how rapidly lean angle and speed are changing. There were question marks over who would be using which package. However, the 2016 regulations made this all a moot point. All sensors, including the inertial platform, have to be homologated by Dorna, and they have to be made available to all teams who request them at the same price as the factory which homologated them.

What this also means is that sensors such as the torque sensor used by Honda on their output shaft must also be homologated for use, and must be made available to other teams for the same price as Honda pay. Honda would also have to submit ECU logic to manage the output from the torque sensor, allowing the other factories to use it if they wished.

In contrast to the sensor package, the output side of the ECU would remain unregulated. Modules, actuators and ignition would all be free, meaning that each manufacturer can choose whichever fuel injectors, ignition coils, fuel pumps, regulators etc they please. As the unified software controls the outputs from the ECU, the action of devices such as injectors and ignition timing has less of an impact than the sensors.

MotoGP's Spec ECU

Speaking to French website OffBikes, Magneti Marelli engineer Marco Venturi gave an idea of the capabilities of the spec Magneti Marelli ECU, the AGO 340 ECU. The ECU has two central processors, a 264 MHz 32-bit PowerPC chip managing analog and digital inputs, and running the CAN bus, and an 800 MHz 32-bit dual core processor which actually runs the vehicle dynamics software, which controls the behavior of the bike, and runs the data logger. The data logger can handle 1024 channels and log at rates of between 1Hz and 1KHz, up to a total of 8GB of data.

The basic sensor package used by most factories uses around 26 different sensor inputs, such as throttle position, suspension travel, pneumatic valve control, etc, as well as inputs from the ECU's internal sensors (accelerometers, temperature and voltage), and the inputs from the inertial platform (which consists of 6 accelerometers and 6 gyroscopes).

Black Magic: The ECU Software

Of course, the real magic in motorcycle electronics is in the software used to control the behavior of the bike. Traction control, launch control, engine braking, power delivery, all of these are controlled by programs written by engineers and loaded onto the ECU. Currently, each factory can write its own programs, giving them great control over the way the bike behaves. The software engineers writing these programs are free to pick and choose which sensor inputs they believe are relevant, combine and manipulate those inputs in whatever way they see fit, and then decide how to control engine power and torque based on the results of that data manipulation.

This means that the software for each manufacturer can behave differently. One factory may use sensors on the front forks to measure fork extension, and use that to control wheelies. Another factory may use data from the gyroscopes and accelerometers to detect the bike starting to shift its weight from the front wheel to the rear, and control wheelies when the rate at which that changes becomes too high. Such differences appear in every area, the characteristics of each bike determined to an extent by software. How well a bike gets out of a corner, how easy they are to launch off the line, how well they are to handle braking for a corner are all determined to a greater or lesser extent by the software they use.

That software is what is to change for 2016. Every bike on the MotoGP grid will use the so-called unified software, the common software written by Magneti Marelli. The unified software is based on the current version of the Open class software, with additional input from the three manufacturers who were in MotoGP when the move to spec software was agreed. Here, too there will be changes, though. Corrado Cecchinelli explains again: "The agreement, which is ratified in an FIM document, is that the software will start as close replica of the current Open riders software," Cecchinelli said. "It will just be ported into full torque system, which means that all the strategies will have a torque reduction as an output, and not a throttle reduction, so you have to have a good model of your engine. But the software strategies will be the same as the current Open riders. Only the platform will be pure torque, and of course it will be written so that it may work on the factory machines and all engines. So it has to address for instance more refined pneumatic timing systems, seamless gearboxes and so on. But this is nothing conceptual, it's just sort of porting the strategies into a more universal platform."

Torque vs Alpha N

Porting to a torque-based system is a major improvement. At the moment, the current Open class software uses the so-called Alpha N system, which measures throttle opening and engine RPM. This provides very simplistic control of the engine, which tends to be slow to react. Factors such as engine load are often overlooked, and the system uses reactive control, rather than active control. For example, the ECU closes the throttle butterflies to control wheelies, which the engine takes a few milliseconds to respond to.

A torque-based system is a far more powerful way of controlling a motorcycle. The ECU has a theoretic model of the engine in its memory and knows how much torque (or acceleration/deceleration power, if you will) the engine can provide under any specific set of conditions. When the rider opens the throttle a specific amount, the ECU uses that to calculate how much torque it thinks the rider is requesting. That will be different riding up a steep hill rather than coming over a crest, for example, and will be different in a lower gear at full lean than at the end of the straight at Qatar. The aim of a torque-based system is to provide consistent response to the throttle for a rider, rather than forcing them to figure out how the throttle will respond under changing conditions. It is safe to assume that all of the factories in MotoGP are currently using a torque-based approach in their ECU software.

Who Writes The Software?

The switch to a torque-based model was the most important request from the manufacturers, but Ducati, Honda and Yamaha are also able to provide input into improving the unified software. Here, too, there has been some confusion over who is doing what and how, but Cecchinelli explained that there was a very clear division of responsibilities. All code would be written and implemented by the Magneti Marelli engineers, with the factories providing suggestions for functionality.

"When the factories agree on something, they will submit as improvement proposals," Cecchinelli said. Which form they submit them in was completely up to them, but the preferred method was via Simulink models, which are a form of software modeling which can be imported directly into Matlab, the language used to write the unified software. "Factories can submit proposals in whatever form they want, but basically it will be like logic flow charts of the strategies they want to be implemented," Cecchinelli said. "They can submit Simulink models. This is the best way. The worst way being just a Word document, in between there is a way, but they will submit agreed ideas and concepts, they will not write the software."

The aim was to make a single set of software, capable of handling multiple engine layouts and configurations, Cecchinelli told me. "We will not have different versions or flags, we will stick to one single software for all, and at the moment we don't have any negative feedback on the engine not working on a specific engine layout." Software development was progressing apace, with a meeting held last week in Bologna to discuss a list of software bugs found and submitted by the factories. Though Cecchinelli denied any knowledge of how far factory testing had progressed, it is clear that bug reports cannot be submitted if the engines are not already running using the software. At this stage, they will only be running on the dyno, with circuit testing not due to start until later in the year.

Cecchinelli said he hoped testing on track would start before the Valencia test, allowing the MotoGP riders to get their first taste of the new software at the test after the final race of the year. "A good goal for me would be to put the factories in the condition to test on track before Valencia," he said. "My idea is to do that with test riders so that maybe in the Valencia after-race test they can be tested with the championship riders. This is my goal. Which doesn't mean that if we reach that goal, they will actually do this. But I would put them in the position to do that if they want."

Keeping Complexity With The Factories

The one complaint which the current Open class teams have is that the software takes a lot of time and effort to optimize, and this required resources which the private teams simply did not have. Cecchinelli admitted that the 2016 software would be even more complex, but he believed that despite this, the job of the private teams would be easier. As the manufacturers will be more closely involved with the private teams, part of the package they will be supplying is a bike with software which already has a very good base setting. The bike will be much closer to being race ready than the current generation of Open class machines, Cecchinelli believes.

Asked about the complexity, Cecchinelli responded, "I think that what you call complexity goes with the power, the ability of the software. By power I mean calculation power and software ability. So I expect from that perspective, things will only get worse. We will have better software, which means more difficult to tune, but this is in line with a scenario where the pure garage manufacturers will disappear in favor of buying the factory machines from the year before."

"There will be more involvement from the companies, so I think that it is true that the software will be in theory more difficult to tune for a small independent team, but the manufacturers' involvement will be so high that in the end, small teams will benefit from the development done by the big R&D departments of the companies. In theory it will be more difficult for them, but actually they will have to do much less job, because it will be 99% tuned by the company. It means that for instance it requires a very good engine model, so you have to make a very good engine picture on the dyno. This is out of the reach of a small team, but it's 90% of the job, once it's done by someone else and you get the results, everything works better with less effort, actually. Even if more effort is actually involved, it is not you as a small team to put the effort in. "

The burden of providing a working base set up has been shifted, from the private teams to the manufacturers. But of course the difference between the factories and the private teams will remain. The factories will have the resources to get the very best out of the unified software. They will no longer be able to control which sensor inputs are used to control wheelies and traction, for example, but they will be able to go through and find the right balance between all of the data available and match power output to the conditions on the track. Just as a professional photographer can get more out of Photoshop than an amateur can, so the factories will still be able to tweak the unified software more precisely than the private teams.

The private teams and factory teams will probably start the 2016 close together, but the factory teams will always be the ones who can squeeze the final few percent out of the spec software. "That's for sure. And that will not change," Cecchinelli admitted, but the gap between the factories and the satellite and independent teams should not be as big as it has been historically. "The big part of the calibration will be done by professional and big structures instead of small teams. Then the small teams just can make the customization for rider-specific needs for that corner or whatever. The small things that you do because your rider is different to another rider, has a different taste, has a different gearbox, things like this. But for instance, all of the engine delivery, which is 90% of the result, is taken care at home by the company. So yes, in theory, it is more complicated, but actually the big complication is taken care by someone else."

Will this mean that riders for independent teams will be able to win again? It has been nearly ten years since Toni Elias won at Estoril, which was the last time that happened. Victory is likely to remain as remote a prospect as every for the independent teams, especially as to actually win a race, they first have to beat Marc Márquez, Valentino Rossi, Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo, and then there's Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone, and Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaro. But the battle behind the leaders should at least be closer, factories no longer having a major advantage in the software they use. They will continue to have the resources to run countless simulations optimizing the software for each race track, and each rider, but the advantage they will gain from that will be cut to a couple of tenths, rather than the best part of a second or more.

Will the unified software make that much of a difference? From the perspective of September 2015, there is reason to be optimistic. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and we will only know for sure once the 2016 season gets underway.

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Great and deep article as always David
Nice to know that MM write the so-called unified software with MATLAB, one thing that i have learned at college

It is incorrect to say all senors must be homologated and shared.

Yes the latest rev date Aug 22 added some words to make it seem so, but keep reading and see the exemption for a proprietary sensor remains. Same with the free devices you mention, but crutially, of which inertia platforms are a part. So neither IP's nor Honda's torque ductor must be common or supplied to other teams. They are clearly exempt from the homologation process.

Great article, thanks for taking the lead on putting it out . :) cheers.

Easy refernce latest rules (see pg 75-76)

The way I read the rules, Honda must request an exemption for that sensor. That torque sensor would fall under the "Any device specifically allowed by the Organiser" exemption, which means that Dorna have to approve it as a free device. I shall ask Cecchinelli what his view is on the torque sensor. The impression I got from speaking to him was that the idea was to homologate all sensors, and make them available to everyone.

However, I am not convinced that the sensor alone will make much difference. If the unified software doesn't have the logic to incorporate the data coming from that sensor in the way that Honda's current software does, then it does not provide much benefit.

You are right about the inertial platform, but again, the only benefit to using a proprietary platform is increased accuracy. It is questionable whether the inertial platforms of each factory allow that much extra precision.

The real difference between the teams and factories will be in the amount of time they are able to devote to optimizing the software and simulating each race track.


I understand that my title may seem a little goofy or sci-fi "ish"...however, what I'm really asking is when describing a bikes "logic", is this logic something like ours where we decide the best possible outcome from a list of scenarios. Or, does the bike simply react to different numbers. Of course, I understand that a bike ECU only responds by inputs from sensors, however is the ECU complex enough to make a educated decision about what "it" thinks is best? I welcome anyone else to chime in as well.

Thank you and I love the site.

The software constantly evaluates the bike's inputs and basically compares them to a number of different if/and/or statements, choosing an output to the ignition and fuel system based on what the input conditions indicate. As you add inputs you add complexity to your logic. The bike isn't thinking, it's processing inputs through the logic that you've written into your software.

AFM780 gave you a very good reply.

Usually such electronics read from various sensors like gearbox, engine speed, rear and front wheel speed. There's usually a section of code used for setup (meaning the declaration of variables and such) and a loop section which constantly monitors sensor inputs. I have a feeling AFM780 might have some knowledge of software engineering looking at the way he replied.

A very very simplified version of such code migh be putting this in the looping section:

if (fws (is smaller than sign) rws) { digitalWrite(ign, LOW);
digitalWrite(ign, HIGH);}

[it won't let me write the is smaller than sign because of the damn HTML tags]

(I must stress that this is a very simplified version that wouldn't really work in real world, and is only here to give you an idea into software logic)

Basically fws is the front wheel speed and rws is the rear wheel speed value (RPM's) which would be expressed as a voltage through a sensor input. 'ign' represents ignition and LOW represents the off and HIGH the on state.

So what the code says is, in human terms, IF the front wheel is spinning slower than the rear wheel, cut off the ignition for 150ms.

The code would constantnly loop for as fast as it could (dictated by processor speed and the complexity of code) and any time the if statement was satisfied, it would cut off the ignition.

Now this is your basic hobbyst Arduino code, written in c/c++ language, simple and it works, but it would also make for bad traction control because in the real world SOME slippage is always expected, and this I believe would cut the power too abruptly.

But it is a very good, albeit crude representation of what actually happens, the difference is that as AFM said, in their code there are lines and lines of if statements including && (and) and || (or) which is how they are written in software code. And of course they don't only play with ignition but also throttle input and so on, and so on.

If anyone is even mildly interested in electronics and how they work, buy an Arduino and simply play, they're very cheap, simple to set up and use and you'll get the idea how all of that stuff works.

I think the best the Indy teams can do, even with spec electronics is eleventh. The satellite teams will get the trickled own from the factories, the former open tems won't.
April will lag behind Suzuki. Suzuki will be behind the satellite teams.
Just my guess.
The software is two parts, first the which part controls what, and second is a LUT, Look up Table.
I'm going to guess at only 2D tables based on the low clock speed and limited data volumes.
Which says the software will come along even for the independent teams. If they outsource the development to a third party. Like buying a chassis.
No matter what this will be interesting to watch.

way too deep for me...less gap between factory and open teams is encouraging though.. despite the talk that factory teams will be able to extract more from it, once in a blue moon an open rider could hope of winning.

Way too deep for me, but interesting as well. Curious to see the effect on the field, but would be just as curious (maybe even happy)if they just flat out did away with electronics.

Doesn't sound like much will change. The factories will control the software put on the spec ECU's of the satellite machinery. A bit of a dog and pony show. I remember years ago when this started and there was great "talk" about limiting traction control, and the like, returning some of the former glory when more control was in the rider's right wrist. Limiting rider aids and such thus bringing back the sliding and tire smoking days of the 990's. That's in the bin. The manus will be allowed to run the same sensors and components they do now, only change being software. With the amount of power and money they have their paid laptop jockeys will code the thing close to what they have now. Smoke and mirrors, and the satellite bikes will remain in the rear with the gear. It was nice to dream for a while.

I agree with everything BrickTop wrote. I'm very disappointed that MotoGP is not dialing rider aids back, and placing more responsibility on the pilot's right wrist to get the job done.

I'm beginning to find these comments to be rather offensive. There is this pervasive idea that somehow the riders of these bikes are mostly just passengers riding along a predetermined path not really affecting much how fast the bike goes around the lap. Or some such nonsense.

These sort of comments are a gross insult to the riders that risk their lives riding these rocketships and the engineers that help them find that extra hundredth of a second. If you think for one second that as soon as the rider gets on the bike the responsibility of how fast he goes is not completely on him you're being very disrespectful.

I fully acknowledge the skills needed to ride these bikes. That said, it's a different set of skills needed than before. Throttle control used to THE most important skill and that is simply not so anymore.
The way the ECU take care of worn tires would simply not be possible with the wrist alone but the one best at it would have a huge advantage. The way the ECU take away power surges, smoth out rider input, and hundreds of other things make these bikes easier (and faster) to ride.

But after reading Tombu's post further down a fully see what you mean.
It's right out disrespecfull towards the riders.

We live in an age where we landed a satellite on a comet, we have just photographed Pluto, using the computer/phone in my pocket I can video conference with anyone in the world and the motorcycle in my garage has traction control, GPS, launch control, automatically adjustable suspension, slipper clutch and a Inertial Measurement Unit but somehow we want the prototype league to race around on bikes from the 80's?

There once was a time when mechanical means was the forefront of technological development, but as a society we have move way past that "laptop jockey's" are pushing every facet of our society forward and to have a racing series where software innovations are not allowed would be a farce. I mean even my dirtbike has traction control, launch control, rain vs dry settings and configurable engine mapping.

This is a disappointing interview, but am with you Bricktop. The end goal of the championship software has moved towards the current functionality of the top 3 factories. The more it does the less hopeful I am about having any but the top four and maybe someday six bikes win any races.

The 800cc era's increase in computer rider aides and the dominance of the couple of factory teams is a scourge curse that could have been removed here. DORNA dropped the ball, likely by means of overwhelm with their initial attempt to make the software themselves. Now they just let the three top manufacturers decide as a group what functionality it will have, and they say "all of it," and that's that.

"The pure garage manufacturers will disappear in favor of buying the factory machines from the year before" indeed. Look at the locked down caste system we will have now. A handful of Factory bikes at the front. A handful of Satellite bikes behind them. Then a handful of last year's cast-off Customer bikes. Thassit! No more KR bikes and the like.

Electronics are good, important and here to stay. I had a 2009 CBR1000rr with no electronics and found it darn near unrideable and no sweetness and joy in it. Now I want to try a BMW or R1M. I get it, bikes are getting unmanageable with all the power they have.

For MotoGP this very high level of electronics is making a race all but unwinnable for anyone but a few Factory bikes. I am resentful and disappointed. Again. Aaaaaaargh!

Hello David, this is my first post after years & years of reading the site! I have a question that originated in your previous analyses but now it is even more relevant.
What about the fuel allowance for 2016? Is it not going to 22 litres for all factories? From what I undestand a major function of today's electronics is to make the bikes last to the finish - no matter what - with a mere 20 litres of fuel. Was it not Yamaha that got caught out at the start of 2014 and solved the problem mainly by electronics (with the super lean engine having abrupt response)? Didn't the last race (wet Silverstone) show that with more fuel available, heavier and / or satellite riders regain some advantages?
If I am not wrong about the change (ie the rules changed again while we weren't looking) isn't the change in fuel allowance perhaps the bigest one of all in importance?

Fuel in 2016 will be 22 liters. It will make some difference, but not an awful lot. It means they won't have to lean the bikes out quite so much at fast tracks and for heavier riders. But it won't have the same impact as the tires or the electronics.

Thanks for a great article David, I could actually follow all of that. Pretty cool to know it's written in Matlab, a language I actually understand!

Articles like these add massive value to the site. It's a complex set of rules and the understanding of them is limited (and evolving, even as it seems with Dorna and the teams). Thankyou for going out of your way to explain things.

Hi David,
Will the 2016 hardware + software allow for teams to programme the bike to know where it is on the track (e.g. corner counting) and have different maps for each corner?

As I understand it, the current Open class system can only be set up by sector, rather than by corner. The unified software will be based on this, so will probably start with that. It is then up to the factories to supply proposals for turn-by-turn control. I expect they will do this. It's not particularly complex to achieve.

"The data coming from the sensors was the same, but each manufacturer had more confidence in the quality of the data from their preferred sensor partners."

This confuses me. The only quality you're looking for in data is accuracy. Either the data is accurate, or it is not. If one sensor provides more accurate data than another, then the data coming from the sensors is not the same.

So the solution, instead of providing an accurate sensor package to all teams, is to let the manufacturers use what they want.

I'm sure Honda and Yamaha would never happily pay an exorbitant price for any sensors so that other teams can not afford them. That would never happen, right?

How is this in any sense "spec"? Everything else downstream of the data collection can be spec, but the team with the more accurate data from the bike is going to get better results.

Them saying "we have been drinking this coffee for so long that we trust it to be the best coffee for us"

At this level, the difference in sensor data made avaliable will not be that varying. Accuracy is a guarantee. With the current capacity of sensors, the only way to increase the accuracy will be through increase in the frequency of data collection.

If that's true then why

"But the manufacturers raised objections after receiving feedback from the Open class teams of erratic behavior from the spec hardware sensors. A source at one Open class team told me that, for example, the gyroscopes measuring lean angle had sometimes been wrong by several degrees."

is this what led them down the homologated sensor path? It seems like the possibility exists that the data can vary, and in fact did.

But after reading this, and waiting for the headache to go away, I'm convinced that the bikes should have no electronics whatsoever (other than the fuel injection), and the only computer allowed should be what's between the rider's ears. Period.

Pandora's Box is not made less dangerous by the passing of time. Removing the physical limitations of human beings always seems liberating, until the consequences manifest themselves. How do you suppose people are able to pilot 2-ton performance sedans with 550hp? It's because the driver doesn't provide the force to turn the wheel or press the clutch or shift the gears or press the brake. Machines do nearly all of the work. We are rewarded with low fuel economy, high road maintenance bills, high vehicle costs, high vehicle maintenance, and commodities shortages. But at least we look cool and the numbers "prove" that we're making real progress. Plus, we can prescribe more technology to fix the problems caused by technology. Are electronic devices are the worlds most perfect virus?

Motorsport also suffers when the pilot no longer controls the machine because there is a fascinating correlation between our physical strength to operate controls and the speed of our reflexes and the resistance of our bodies to g-force. Our physical limitations can also control costs. How do you suppose we're able to ride 4-stroke bikes that rev to 16,000 rpm? Electronically-controlled engine-braking, which is the opposite of what the name suggests.

If this is the modern era, humans should be smart enough to understand that digitizing performance machines requires an accompanying set of self-limiting regulations. Unfortunately, MotoGP looks for the laziest solution, like most racing series. They'd rather juts define "MotoGP electronics", and then make everyone play with the same set of toys. This isn't the work of Luddites. It's the work of lazy, careless technophiles whose professional malpractice gets them regulated.

I'm sure Dorna would have banned them outright, were it not for the complicated web that electronics has spun around MotoGP. Also, mechanical engineers could accomplish many of the same feats as the eletronics, but perhaps at much higher cost. MotoGP is choosing the lesser of two evils, not the greater good.

Welcome to the real 2015.

Agree almost completely, but to me they should remove fuel injection to, so that a good mechanic can make his carburator/jetting better then another mechanic down the pitlane, then you have also (finaly again) a real challenge for the mechanics instead of only swapping a engine or change the gear ratio.

I'm aware of the difference between precision and accuracy; my point is that from the very beginning of the process things are not equal with the most fundamental thing: gathering of data.

Cecchinelli said "The data coming from the sensors was the same" but it won't be, not with different sensors with different tolerances and operating ranges.

If this most fundamental thing can't be made "spec" then the whole thing is a farce. Which it is, and has been.

While I fully understand your point, I do not think it will be as much of an issue as you fear. As I understand it, the sensor package for each bike will come as part of the whole bike lease. So all of the Hondas will be using the same sensors, from Repsol to LCR to Aspar. All of the Yamahas will be the same, and all six of the Ducatis. The sensors may be different between the different manufacturers, but their capabilities will be virtually identical. The factories will have chosen the best sensors available, and those will be included in the price. Nobody will be using the Open class sensors, because the Open class won't exist anny more.

The differences between the factory and private teams will continue to exist, but they will be down to resources, not hardware. Those differences have always existed, and will always exist.

So you don't envision a sensor "upgrade package" for satellite/customer bikes? You think all bikes will come from the factory with the same hardware package by default? I do hope that's the case.

I'm sure factory bikes recieve upgrades first but sensors can't possibly be that critical. There is nothing revolutionizing coming up here as they are homologated and commonly available. My point is that the upgrade from a good sensor to an excellent sensor in most cases will be good for approximately 0.0000 sec faster lap time.

When you say "All of the Yamahas will be the same, and all six of the Ducatis", you only mean from the software aspect, right?

I would imagine the new parts/upgrades would still go on to the factory bikes first and satellite bikes later, like is the case today?

felt like I haven't heard of PowerPC for ages now. but it is probably powerful enough for such tasks.
there's an easier solution than this unified software thingy, however, and that is to require each factories to supply all IDENTICAL bikes for all their respective teams. two for the factory-ran team, the other two for the satellite team, and the rest is for customer teams, if needed. so if, for example, the honda factory team is using an RCV of 2016 model, the 2016 model must be supplied to honda's satellite and customer teams at the same time. and the bike must be made to be affordable by the financially weakest team. if this means all honda teams must run the RCV1000R, so be it.
just my own wishful thinking though. still waiting for the day 2-stroke GP bikes made a comeback...

Wow :-
- so nothing has changed. The factories still have an overwhelming advantage;
- the level of control the ecu's have over the bike is mind boggling. How long David before we make the final step to full on drone MotoGp bikes? Just think, the controllers won't even have to leave the factories to "race". Less personnel travel costs, no riders salaries to pay - there's huge potential $$$ savings possible Dorna!!

Because drones have no personality... oh, hang on a minute :-))

In '05 I developed a micro radar systsm, and was tasked with translating matlab to run on an embedded integer processor. We brute forced it, whereas matlab does everything in double precision (+/-10^300 w/17 digits precision), power restraints required a low power integer processor (+/-2 billion), so we scaled the data between each processing step to prevent underflow or overflow. In 2011 I took on a similar role for a sonar system. This time we used a fixed point library to ease integer scaling for the sensor processing front end (think FFT's and beamforming). Matlab offers a fixed point tool, we did not use it. For the parametric target tracker, we used the matlab Coder to translate matlab to C automatically. After that we could cross-compile for the target processor. So I'm interested in knowing how they do their translation. Which tools and methods.

As others have noted, the big teams will still have a major advantage. What I find more interesting is the exploitation of "bugs" (whether or not they were planned). While I doubt the factories would place backdoors, an over zealous nerd could. Also there is an IOT edge computing aspect to this, some processing could be pushed to mircoprocessors at/and part of the sensor. More chances for rule stretching.

If Dorna, or MM or any of the factories want to hire me, I come cheap $200,000.00/year plus travel.

To say that I am old school would be a major understatement. I can appreciate that electronic and digital technology have made motorcycles both safer and more reliable, but to me they (motorcycles) should remain mostly mechanical devices where electronics should be used sparingly. I would love to see today's top MotoGP riders compete against each other on bikes over which they actually have total control, without any rider's aid and a horde of programmers behind them.

Edge treated tires and electronics , thankfully there is an actual race this weekend !

Friday afternoon, FP2. Intermittent showers up to lunch time rendered the track damp with a drying line in bright sunshine, occasional slithers of wetness in some areas. In short a bit tricky. Donington, primeval spectator facilities tempered with, in some places, a chance to get as close to a MotoGP bike as anywhere else in the world, particularly from Macleans down to the Melbourne loop. The riders streamed out, we were on the inside of Coppice where hefty work had begun to get the place ready for F1.....anyway, to me and my mate's opinions it was clear that in these constantly changing conditions that everyone appeared to be holding open their throttles and letting the electronics of the day pick their way through the different surfaces-sure they were on slicks. Everyone except one Valentino Rossi who, lap after lap was clearly not letting those electronics take charge as his bike wasn't making the intermittent banging and burping noises, it seemed as if he was using a hyper delicate right hand to FEEL the grip and attempting to drive the bike through the conditions. We both commented during the session that his bike sounded completely different to all the rest.
Bikes aren't cars, they will still have to be ridden and the rider will still have scope and latitude to make a difference. It may be a crude analogy, but John Surtees, when interviewed at Goodwood a few years ago and asked the question about the difference between bikes and cars (admittedly in his day..), politely gazed into a bemused Vicky Butler-Henderson's face and asked her what a car does when you get out of the cockpit? In the absence of an answer he said 'it sits there waiting for it's next command- when you walk away from a motorcycle it falls over, it's totally reliant on the physical input of the rider.'
I'm so grateful to David for articles like these, even though it leaves this old-schooler with a spinning head. However I do wonder,
plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose..?

Awesome article. Most journalists prefer to stick to the usual trivia as it dispenses the needs to research and techno-educate themselves to a a level that a source will take seriously. You achieve that whatever the angle (sportive, technical, statistical, historical...). Great work, thank you.

I think we can all agree that these measures were supposed to be an effort to limit the advantage the "haves" have over the "have nots"? Such that well funded (Factory) teams couldn't buy an advantage away from the track by simply throwing cubic human/computing/$$$$ resources at the task of extracting maximum performance from the electronics platform. It is pretty much a way of bypassing the limits on testing because hard/software and simulations/modelling are unlimited.

So what is going to change in 2016? It sounds disappointingly like very little.

I dunno, I'm just frustrated that the opportunity to allow a smart small team with a good bike and a good rider to challenge the front runners has been lost because something that should have been simplified (but still highly evolved) has grown arms and legs to become something extremely cumbersome. I can't help thinking that's just the way the Factory's want it .

Instead of a savvy business decision that addresses the issue we have rules by committee that acheive very little.

Then again I shouldn't really be suprised by a sport which allows traction control on corner exit but not on corner entry (abs), limits brake rotor size but allows carbon rotors, allows pneumatic valves which have no stteet application but bans variable valve timing/lift which does, etc etc.

Oh well, I can only count the days and weeks until the lines of code and various algorythms are streamed across the bottom of our screens so we can ooh and aah over the sheer "elegance" of it all.

and became the opposite of what it was sold to be...but this has actually been in the rules all of this year. David is just the first to expose it.

The bigger surprise for me, which this article brought to light, is that the Open class software was based on a logic referd to as Alpha N. Which (read the link and it says) is for full throttle applications.....somthing motorcycles are anything but....

So my optimist side says even if the factories stay as they are, just getting rid of that alone is worth several tenths and will improve the situation for the others.