Formula One 2017 – Exciting changes for team Mercedes.

Today is the first day of the pre-season testing for 2017 formula one season. I am very excited about the 2017 season. The new regulations are expected to make the cars go faster. One of the criticisms for the hybrid era formula one races have been the lack of excitement. Faster cars are definitely going to make this sport very exciting indeed.

Along with car changes there is also a change in driver lineup. Last year’s world champion: Nico Rosberg retired from the sports. To fill-in his spot is Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas. Bottas moved from Williams-Martini Racing, a Mercedes powered team, to the factory team. Lewis Hamilton is the veteran driver for the team. I am expecting Hamilton to be faster of the two. Unlike last year, I also hope Hamilton to have a better luck with reliability. Mercedes AMG Petronas have made some significant changes to the 2017 car.

This video below explains all the regulation changes in place for 2017 season.

Here are my thoughts on some of the interesting details I found out about the Mercedes AMG Petronas W08 2017 car.

One of the important changes to the 2017 season W08 EQ+ powered car is the delta shaped front wings with 12.5 degree back sweep angle. It features cascade winglets similar to 2016 season. The delta front wings are a regulation change for the 2017 season.

The W08 has a slender nose, shorter camera pods and a new S duct design with deeper grooves and embedded antenna in the middle. The four element turning vanes attached to the new nose design features their own individual footplates that are again divided into a total of seven individual aerofoils. There is also a bommerang shaped fin sitting above the barge-boards.

The car also features a taller front suspension by placing the upper wishbone higher. A taller wishbone frees-up space between suspension elements and create cleaner and increased airflow into aerodynamic components behind it.

The primary barge-board occupies almost all of the box area set out by the FIA regulations. It also features a number of perforations along the base to help optimize the airflow and seal off the splitter behind. The perforated body work is designed for creating elongated vortices and optimized surrounding free-flow of air. There is also a more detailed out-sweep floor board design to optimize airflow underneath the car. Another interesting addition to the floor board is a simpler design to displace turbulent airflow by featuring nine perforations ahead of the rear tires. This approach is a relatively simpler design compared to previous years. These floor-board perforations will allow cleaner airflow over the rear tires by preventing the formation of vortices.

The overall length of the car has been increased by 15 cm. It also features a very big, complexly sculpted vane tower design on either sides of the barge-boards. The side pods are extended for better engine air intake. Since the 2017 design increases the airflow to the engine, I am expecting an increase in the power-output for the otherwise largely unchanged internal combustion design. The side-pods also feature a highly detailed three element flow conditioners for maximizing the deflection of the wake from the side-pod undercuts.

 

The rear of the car features a FIA regulation mandated slanted, bow shaped rear wing, which is shallower at the tips than at the center. There is also an open leading edge slotted end-plate design for the rear wing. A narrow ‘T-shaped’ mini-wing is also placed ahead of the rear tires. The new wing design and the mini-wing is aimed at making the car more aerodynamically balanced. I am expecting slight changes to the wing design, depending on the nature of the race circuit.

Even though the initial reveal at Silverstone showed a car with a subtle ‘shark-fin’ element over the rear engine cover, the race car debuted at Barcelona has a more prominent ‘shark-fin’ aero-structure. The more prominent ‘shark-fin’ engine cover element also features a clever engine intake point, possibly to assist in cooling some of the kinetic energy recovery (MGU-K) components.

Another area of important changes are to the hybrid power train. Here is a video from the Mercedes team explaining all the significant engine changes for the 2017 season.

According to Andy Cowell, the chief of Mercedes High Performance Powertrains, the new engine features updated high-power switches for better efficiency. The new engine design is aimed at taking advantage of the added down-force and grip with the new aerodynamic design. Since, the full-throttle time is projected to increase for the 2017 races, both engine and motor generator units (MGUs) for energy recovery systems needed the upgrade. The drive cycle change expected for 2017 races have led to the development of a more efficient MGU-H and an updated MGU-K system. I am expecting an increased reliability for the power train. The removal of token system for engine development means there is some room for significant improvement in performance as the season evolves.

An interesting addition to the new wing mirrors is the integration of infrared cameras for tire temperature monitoring. Mercedes team has been partnering with mobile communication giant Qualcomm. This partnership has made some exciting and significant improvements in telemetry and data acquisition from the new car.

The tires have changed for the 2017 season. The new Pirellis on the W08 are wider than last years, with 305 mm front and 405 mm rear tires. These tires will improve the overall grip. It also allows better transfer of power to the road, which means increased cornering speeds.

With the wider tires, improved aerodynamics for better stability and down-force, and an updated power-train, I am expecting to see a 3 to 3.5 second improvement in lap-times with the new car over 2016 season.

Here is an awesome video from the Mercedes AMG Petronas team featuring their drivers: Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

From the looks of it, team Mercedes has another winning package. Hamilton and Bottas are the two very talented drivers currently in formula one. The 2017 race car has significant improvements from last years in areas that matter. The engineers at Mercedes have managed to retain all the key elements of the W07 car that worked very well for the team last year. The new W08 car features extensive updates, but remains an evolutionary design over last years car. Considering the dominance of W07 over its rivals in the last season, an evolutionary design should work very well for the Mercedes team.

If the early track testings are any indication, the 2017 formula one season is going to be hugely exciting. My bet is on a close Mercedes-Ferrari battle with Mercedes having a slight upper hand.

All photographs featured in this blog post were taken at the Silverstone race circuit 2017 Silver Arrows ‘Collateral Day’ session, Towcester NN12 8TN, UK and photographed by Steve Etherington. The first picture at the beginning of this post features from left to right: Lewis Hamilton, Toto Wolff and Valtteri Bottas, behind a Mercedes AMG Petronas Silver-arrows W08 formula one race car. 


New kid in the block – Homomorphic encryption.

Healthcare data has an important challenge from a cryptography standpoint. It has to be both private and useful. An initial review of these requirements may appear as  two completely contradictory elements. Encrypted data using traditional encryption techniques remove the usability factor. In a traditional encryption scheme, unless the end user with the encrypted data has a decryption key, the data is completely useless.

But, what if there is a new way of encrypting data? A technique where, the end user can perform certain relevant functions on the encrypted data without ever decrypting it. As it turns out, there is a mechanism of accomplishing this. It is called homomorphic encryption scheme.

This scheme was first proposed by Ronald L. Rivest, Leonard Adleman and Michael Dertouzos.  The general expression for a fully homomorphic encryption scheme is:

There are currently a few cryptographic libraries that can be classified as fully homomorphic encryption schemes.

The key advantage of a fully homomorphic encryption scheme is the ability to perform mathematical calculations on the cipher text. For healthcare data to be useful, one need to perform these calculations on the data. Using a fully homomorphic encryption scheme, these computations can be performed without ever decrypting the data.

Homomorphic encryption scheme is the next big step in big data and artificial intelligence. As more and more healthcare organizations are looking to reduce cost of their IT infrastructure by adopting cloud computing, a truly homomorphic encryption scheme will not only protect the data, but also provide useful insights into these massive data-sets without ever compromising privacy.

Some of this work is done as part of our startup project nanoveda. For continuing nanoveda’s wonderful work, we are running a crowdfunding campaign using gofundme’s awesome platform. Donation or not, please share our crowdfunding campaign and support our cause.

Donate here: gofundme page for nanoveda.

(The picture of rows of protein data creating a colorful sequence display at the Genomic Research Center in Gaithersburg, Maryland. This image was created by © Hank Morgan – Rainbow/Science Faction/Corbis and obtained from public domain via nationalgeographic.com)


Research and development – When is a good time to invest?

Businesses have limited resources. How to efficiently manage them is an art. A key controversial area of spending is always research and development (R&D). As a start-up we are even more constrained than a regular well established business. Therefore the question I often encounter: Is that a great idea to invest in research and development.

I have given some thought to that question. My answer is a resounding yes. I am pitching this idea on top of Amar G. Bose’s vision of role of research and development in business. A trendy approach for most corporations is to keep the research and development efforts to a bare minimum, mostly in the name of shareholder or investor value. Most business doesn’t view themselves as flag bearers of innovation. They orient themselves to protect the status quo of their commercial enterprise. When going gets tough, these enterprises cut spending from R&D to shift the blame from having a poor product portfolio in the first place.

This is a counter-intuitive, yet, widely adopted practice in the world of business. Amar Bose had a very different take. According to Bose, when the economy is going through a recession or when a company is struggling to find a better place in the market, it is the best time to invest in research and development. His reasoning being, cutting money from R&D wouldn’t provide the oxygen for coming up with newer products and innovations that a company needs in the first place. By the time the recession is over, or when customers realize there is a gap in what their expectations are and what the product delivers, the company will no longer be in a position to deliver the increased expectations of the customers or the business environment. New competitors will fill-in the gap.

My suggestion is: always invest in R&D and be bullish about those investments. Even if the business is just a mom and pop store in a highly popular tourist neighborhood, R&D will work. Especially in an era when social media and data sciences have become the life blood of businesses, all types of businesses, whether small or large, need to invest in R&D. By R&D I don’t mean running a lab with a bunch of scientists with white coats. The research and development includes, how to improve supply chain efficiency, how to improve communication and PR, how to improve cash inflow, how to better develop a targeted marketing, so on and so forth.

Science and business goes hand in hand. Science has an empirical view of the world. Businesses need to have an empirical view of financial performance. When these two merge together, it is a recipe for growing into a great business. An approach of R&D heavy investments will help businesses understand the emerging blind-spots in the market place and solve them as quickly as possible.

A great example is Exxon-Mobil. Despite having a heavy investment in fossil fuels, the company invested billions of dollars into scientific research on climate science. When the results of the research started coming out, it turned out to be a completely unexpected outcome for the executives initially. But, it still provided a valuable tool to foresee the evolving energy market. How Exxon-Mobil dealt with the unexpected results is highly controversial, but, I admire the ability of an organization to fund scientific research that had far-reaching consequences to their traditional business model.

My view of R&D is: it is the stethoscope of the market place. It will allow us to listen into small shifts in rhythm, way before those shifts change into a disastrous event. This listening tool will help enterprises survive from being blind-sided by large scale disruptive changes in the market place.

This work is done as part of our startup project nanoveda. For continuing nanoveda’s wonderful work, we are running a crowdfunding campaign using gofundme’s awesome platform. Donation or not, please share our crowdfunding campaign and support our cause.

Donate here: gofundme page for nanoveda.

(The picture of the International Space Station (ISS) taken on 19 Feb. 2010, backdropped by Earth’s horizon and the blackness of space. This image was photographed by a Space Transportation System (STS) -130 crew member on space shuttle Endeavour after the station and shuttle began their post-undocking relative separation. Undocking of the two spacecraft occurred at 7:54 p.m. (EST) on Feb. 19, 2010. The picture was obtained from public domain via nasa.gov)