Bugatti telemetry detects car issues in real time
Feature has been available on Bugatti cars since Veyron 16.4 in 2004Joe Duarte
Published: April 16, 2018, 4:30 PM
Updated: April 30, 2018, 4:24 PM
You know that saying about getting what you pay for? Well, when you buy a Bugatti, there are many things you get for the hundreds of thousands you shell out. And some may come as a surprise when they happen.
Take the case of a Gulf-region customer who got a call from Bugatti headquarters in Molsheim, France informing him that the left front tire on his Chiron was low on air, and was told by the technician on the other end exactly how much air to add to the tire.
The reason is telemetry, a feature available on Bugatti automobiles since the Veyron 16.4 in 2004, and one that can be transmitted in real time (something that’s usually reserved for top-level racing series cars).
“At that time, we really broke new ground,” says Norbert Uffmann, the communications engineer currently responsible for the development of Bugatti’s telemetry system. “Bugatti is the first automobile manufacturer to apply telemetry on a production vehicle. And we are still unique in this respect,”
With the Chiron, far more data can be collected — about 10,000 signals from all parts of the car, including engine, transmission, lights, air conditioning and infotainment system — with vehicle owners allowing it to be always available, during certain periods or events, or at designated times. Owners must give consent (prior to purchase) for the data to be collected, and only specific Bugatti personnel have access to collected data.
“This is a highly personal concierge service of the type you normally only find in luxury hotels,” says Hendrik Malinowski, Bugatti’s Director of Sales and Operations Molsheim. “Our customers have the most demanding requirements for individual support in all areas of their lives. With our telemetry system, we can provide our customers with assistance in all technical matters related to their Bugatti. At any hour of the day and, if necessary, also of the night.”
The data is transmitted via mobile radio around the clock, provided the car is in an area with mobile phone service, taking about as long to reach a technician as a text message between friends. However, that doesn’t mean the Bugatti Flying Doctors (three technicians that are customers’ primary contact with the factory) must be on constant vigil; if the data received is deemed to warrant immediate attention, the technician is alerted by phone message.
The data is also analyzed over the long term, allowing the Flying Doctor assigned to the vehicle to gauge whether the issue is isolated or recurring, and therefore able to order whatever necessary parts may be needed to enact a fix. The three Flying Doctors cover North America, Europe/Russia and Middle East and Asia/Pacific, and are so called because they are ready to fly out at a moment’s notice to meet customers at their dealerships or their homes, if the technical issue cannot be satisfactorily resolved over the phone.
The telemetry system also works in reverse, allowing the factory to contact the vehicle with changing configurations or to upload software updates. Communication takes place between Customer Support computers and an in-car aluminum box slightly smaller than a box of Kleenexes. The box uses a controlled area network (CAN) to collect data from 30 on-board control units (which on today’s vehicles are becoming increasingly interconnected) and relays it back to the factory.
Telemetry can also track stolen vehicles in real time, a feature that was not available to the Veyron in 2004. And will do it automatically if it detects “peculiar” instances, such as if it detects that the car is moving while vehicle systems indicate it is stationary (such as if it is being transported in the back of a truck).
The system was also used extensively in the development of the Chiron. By collecting data during testing in real time, engineers were able to implement changes on the fly, rather than wait until the test finished and then analyze data.
“Bugatti’s telemetry system is our version of the connected car – exclusive and individual for our customers and saving time and money for our developers,” concludes Uffmann. “This is ‘Connected Car‘ à la Bugatti, and it has been available for more than a decade.”