Turbulent day for Audi in Formula E in Mexico

In 2018, Daniel Abt celebrated his first ever Formula E victory at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez circuit. This time, the race day seemed to be over for the German as early as 8 AM: Due to a software communication problem, Abt crashed into the barrieres at the end of a straight. “This was the most violent impact of my career,” said Abt, who was flown by helicopter to a hospital for examinations as a precaution. “I am glad that the cars are so safe and that I survived today almost unharmed. It was a great achievement of my crew to get the car ready to race again. But of course, it was clear that it would be a very difficult race for me from almost the back of the field and with practically no practice. Now it’s all about getting fit again before Marrakesh.”

Lucas di Grassi fought his way up to 6th from 15th on the grid in another spectacular Formula E race in front of an impressive crowd. This allowed the Brazilian to defend his 5th position in the Drivers’ standings of the all-electric racing series. “This was a tough race,” said di Grassi. “Although we scored good points, I’m not 100 percent happy. We did not have the pace in the race to move up further. We have to work hard to get stronger in qualifying, but also in the race.”

“This was a turbulent day for us,” said Team Principal Allan McNish. “For Daniel, it started in a bad way with the crash, and for Lucas, with the difficult qualifying, it didn’t get off very well either. But, we still scored important points. Coming through from 15th on the grid to 6th keeps Lucas right in the title fight. That Daniel was able to start at all was a great team effort. It wasn’t an easy day for us, but we’re already fully focused on the next race in Marrakesh.”

Formula E: latest news and miscellaneous from Mexico City

After the track walk on Friday morning, both Audi drivers were impressed by the new track layout of the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez circuit. “Especially the first section is really cool,” says Daniel Abt. “The final corner is the fastest in the history of Formula E,” adds Lucas di Grassi. “We are driving at well over 200 km/h, this is a real challenge. I prefer the new track layout. It’s more technical than the previous layout with its tight, unpredictable chicanes.”

Thanks to the redesigned final corner, Mexico City has the longest full-throttle section on the Formula E calendar. Combined with the longest race distance to date, fans can look forward to a race in which energy management will play a decisive role and the outcome of the race will probably only take place in the final meters, as it was the case last year. In 2019, Lucas di Grassi secured victory with a spectacular overtaking move right on the finish straight.

In 2018, Daniel Abt celebrated his first ever Formula E win in Mexico – a defining experience. The 27-year-old German even had a Mexican Skull tattooed on his upper arm as a memento of the occasion. Abt is not alone this weekend: Audi has produced temporary tattoos in the form of adhesive stickers that are distributed to all of the team members and fans.

The race in Mexico will start on Saturday at 4 PM local time (11 PM CET) and, as usual, will last for 45 minutes plus one lap. As always, Eurosport will air live coverage. All of the international channels, including the broadcast schedules, can be found online at www.fiaformulae.com.

Virtual training and intelligent algorithms: Audi is counting on “smart logistics”

The company tested digital shelf labeling at the Audi plant in Győr, Hungary, for the first time last year. This new technology is equipped with what are known as e-ink displays, which are also used in e-book readers, and offers significant added value. When names, numbers, or the arrangement of the parts in the shelf change, the logistics specialists no longer need to update the labeling by hand. Information can also be displayed at short notice quickly, for example if a part is out of stock and is to be replaced with a different part. Another advantage is that the digital displays always stay clean, do not generate any waste paper, and consume only very little electric energy, even in continuous operation. The German/Hungarian project team is currently enhancing the technology. One of the goals is to implement fully automatic updates. Series production in the near future is conceivable, including at other Audi sites. With digital shelf labeling, Audi is taking another step toward paperless order picking. When gathering parts, Audi employees already usually work with tablets and hand-held scanners today.

Digital helpers like these are just one example of the use of smart technology in the automotive manufacturer’s Logistics division. “We are making targeted use of the advantages of digitalization at our production sites worldwide” says Dieter Braun, Head of Supply Chain. The driverless transport systems that have been in use at the Audi plants for many years are another example. They transport parts to the workstations automatically, for example in the electric motor production in Győr, where there is no assembly line. They use laser scanners to orient themselves in the production hall and find the optimum route. This highly flexible procedure is made possible by algorithms and machine learning, controlled by a smart IT system in the control station. This enables IT to keep track of all systems, all driverless transport vehicles, and the product, even without a fixed assembly line sequence.

At Pre-Series Logistics in Ingolstadt, Audi is currently the first automotive manufacturer to try out a new driverless transport system, which follows people around. The “Effibot” uses laser sensors to detect the employee’s legs and follows them automatically at low speed. All it takes is a touch of a button – the system requires neither complicated adjustments nor a special infrastructure. It also offers an autonomous driving function that allows the “Effibot” to head for previously defined destinations independently. The employees welcome the pilot project: They have an assistant that helps them with their work and they no longer need to push order picking trolleys by hand.

Another smart solution brings Audi employees worldwide together: They use virtual reality (VR) to work together group-wide and across locations in virtual spaces. In Packaging Logistics, for example, employees have been training with VR for several years. The training is designed like a video game and can be adapted to suit other activities as well – no programming skills are required. The company is also counting on VR technology in the production of the Audi e-tron GT, which will roll off the line at the Böllinger Höfe starting in 2020 together with the Audi R8: As part of a pilot project, the logistics planners in Neckarsulm are currently testing how special containers can be planned and tested entirely in a virtual space and without any physical prototypes. These containers are used for particularly sensitive parts such as electrics, headlights, or the windshield. They are custom-made for this task and their planning takes a corresponding amount of effort. Developing the special containers with VR is less expensive and is also better for the environment.

The Smart Decisions team at Audi addresses even more complex planning processes. The experts “translate” a wide range of issues into mathematical models, and a high-performance computer uses these as a basis to find solutions for logistics-related problems, for example the external storage forecast. As part of the delivery process, certain models may have to be put into interim storage for a short time. But which of the storage areas is suitable? Numerous factors play a part in answering this question: For example, the distance between the respective parking lot, the plant and the delivery destination, the cost for transportation between these stations, or the capacity of the parking lots. The mathematical model created by the Smart Decisions team allows these vehicles to be distributed optimally among the storage areas. The prototype is finished and further development is underway – as is the case with numerous promising digital projects in Audi Logistics.

AudiStream: Virtual journey through the world of production at Audi in Ingolstadt

AudiStream provides detailed insights into selected production stages at Audi in Ingolstadt. Additionally, the new online feature presents the technical highlights of the brand. The tour guides share their knowledge from numerous factory tours and moderate the virtual tours live from a studio. They explain production processes, answer individual questions as part of a dialog, and tailor the course of the approximately 20-minute live stream to the wishes and interests of the participants.

AudiStream starts with the online feature “Audi live at the Ingolstadt factory.” Participants learn how an Audi is made, from the first production steps in the press shop up to the last manual operations during the final assembly. Streams about further topics concerning the Audi brand are to follow.

Users select the desired live stream and a suitable time slot online at www.audi.stream. The offering is free of charge; fees may be charged for internet access, however, depending on the selected provider.

Further information on AudiStream can be found in the video

Audi aims to continue winning streak in Mexico

The race in Mexico is one of the absolute highlights on the calendar. Although it is the only truly permanent race track of the season, the drivers love the circuit – especially due to its unique atmosphere in the stadium-like section, where they can even hear the cheering of the enthusiastic fans during the race in the cockpit. Some 40,000 spectators in the grandstands watch the race of the all-electric racing series every year. 

The circuit has been a happy hunting ground for Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler in competitive terms. Last season, following a gripping race with a spectacular overtaking maneuver just a few meters before the finish line, Lucas di Grassi scored his second victory at the track after 2017. In 2018, teammate Daniel Abt celebrated his first ever Formula E win in Mexico – a defining experience. The 27-year-old German even had a Mexican Skull tattooed on his upper arm as a memento of the occasion.

“Mexico is a special place for me – not only because that’s where I celebrated my first victory, but because the enthusiasm of the crowd makes for a fantastic atmosphere every year,” says Daniel Abt. “I always take a lot of time out to be with the fans and ride the wave of their euphoria for a while. My first trophy this season is overdue and celebrating it on the podium in Mexico on Saturday afternoon would be brilliant.”

As far as the track is concerned, the cards will be reshuffled this year for Formula E’s fifth appearance in Mexico: The circuit has been extended by 25 percent of its previous length, turning into a completely new section after the first two corners. Now boasting a length of 2.606 kilometers, the track promises even greater thrill than before, plus a good additional overtaking opportunity. Energy management was already a decisive factor last year and will be even more important this time.

“The new layout brings another element of suspense into play, because once again it will be important to quickly home in on the new track,” says Team Principal Allan McNish. “Subjectively, we fell short of our potential in the first three races: We had the performance, but after difficult qualifying sessions, did not go home with enough points. In Mexico, the team, the drivers and the car have always felt very comfortable so far. Our goal is to focus on our total package and to nail down success.” 

Before the usually compact race day with free practice sessions, qualifying and the race packed into the space of just a few hours, Daniel Abt and Lucas di Grassi will be fulfilling a very special wish: Two days before the race, they are going to visit the Audi plant in San José Chiapa on the outskirts of Puebla, where nearly 5,500 employees produce the Audi Q5 and the Audi SQ5. In addition to a tour of the plant, the agenda includes a talk and photographs with employees, interviews and an autograph session.

“Events in Mexico are a highlight for any race driver – that was already the case in my days with Audi in the World Endurance Championships and it has received another boost in Formula E,” says Lucas di Grassi. “Thinking about the race last season still makes me smile – that was something you will probably only experience once – it was pure adrenaline.” Following an intensive duel, di Grassi in an awesome maneuver overtook Pascal Wehrlein, who had been leading the race for a long time, just ten meters before the finish line in 2019, scoring a deserved triumph for the whole team after a strategically perfect race. “We know our strengths and are determined to fight for victory – although it won’t necessarily have to be such a close one again.” 

The race in Mexico will start on Saturday at 4 PM local time (11 PM CET) and, as usual, will last for 45 minutes plus one lap. As always, Eurosport will air live coverage. All international channels including the broadcast schedule can be found online at www.fiaformulae.com. Under the name of AudiSport, Audi will provide Formula E reports from Mexico on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

In addition to the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler factory team, the Envision Virgin Racing customer team will go on the hunt for points with the e-tron FE06 that was jointly developed by Audi and technology partner Schaeffler. Sam Bird and Robin Frijns sit in the third spot of the teams’ classification after the first three races.

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