Skip to Content
Future-shaping projects

Start your engines

Powering the Peugeot 9X8 hypercar with AI and data

Pierre-Denis Autric explains how his Capgemini team is working with Peugeot Sport to optimize the performance of their 9X8 hypercar to compete in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Tarmac shimmers in the heat haze. Dozens of gleaming racecars edge around the formation lap, growling like tethered beasts. Thousands of spectators roar from the stands. The lap ends, the red lights vanish… the race begins.

This year, Capgemini faces a tough new challenge: a team led by Pierre-Denis Autric has been working on Peugeot Sport’s first full season of racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship, with its stunning 9X8 hypercar. 

Lasting six hours or more, the grueling WEC races are the ultimate test of engineering and performance. The season also includes one of the most prestigious and storied racing events on the planet: the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“Capgemini isn’t involved in car racing very often,” says Pierre-Denis. “It’s wonderful to see our logo out on the track, at the cutting edge of innovation.” 

From smartphones to hypercars

An expert in innovation and automotive design thinking, Pierre-Denis has been with Capgemini for almost 25 years. He is a cultural hacker, and the coordinator of the collaboration with Stellantis, the parent company of Peugeot Sport. However, his route into innovation began with far more humble technology than a racecar.

“My journey started in business intelligence. Over time, I realized I was interested in the creative side of things. I began experimenting with early smartphones, acquired a little knowledge, and was brought in to help an automotive client who wanted to set KPIs around this new technology. I was one of the few people in the team who had any real understanding of them at the time.”

Today, Pierre-Denis focuses on automotive design, drones, artificial intelligence, and other disruptive technologies. “For me, innovation is about scaling up new technologies or methodologies to solve clients’ problems. But it’s just as much about understanding the mindset of the user.”

Enter the cultural hacker

This is where “cultural hacking” comes in: peeling back the layers of an organization to understand the individuals and the way they approach new concepts and technologies.

And far from being a sociological nicety, the cultural dimension is central to the success or failure of an innovation, says Pierre-Denis. “You might end up producing the same tool or solution for two separate clients, but the adaptation curve will be completely different because of the different cultures.”

The Peugeot 9X8

Capgemini’s work with Peugeot Sport covers three key areas: sustainability assessment, data engineering, and data science, with the last two closely linked with the hypercar.

“Essentially, our solution for the 9X8 involves uploading vast amounts of data from the car’s computer onto a cloud-based platform,” says Pierre-Denis. “There, our AI models consolidate and analyze the data in order to improve the car’s performance.”

Understanding and querying the data helps Peugeot Sport’s engineers – and the drivers – make more informed decisions, on and off the track, to gain a few tenths or hundredths of a second on each lap. “When you add them together across the whole of the race, those split seconds can make the difference between winning and losing.”

A bright future

Although the main goal is to help the Peugeot Sport team win trophies, the 9X8 project promises to deliver innovations away from the track, says Pierre-Denis.
 “This project is a powerful demonstration of how the cloud can be used to support the deployment of an industrial prototype, because it is the ideal environment for processing and querying large datasets.”

What’s more, he says, the car’s on-board computer could provide a template for other automotive projects, in terms of how it relays and receives data. In the future, this could help Peugeot develop more energy-efficient, and therefore more climate-friendly vehicles.

Painting fish

As an artist himself, Pierre-Denis is in a strong position to appreciate the impressive aesthetics of the 9X8. “It is definitely the most beautiful in the paddock. It shows what you can do when you make bold design decisions.”

Indeed, Pierre-Denis sees parallels with his own practice, which involves large-scale paintings of fish shoals. “What I love about painting is that you always start with a blank sheet of paper. It’s the epitome of freedom, of potential.”

He adds that finding solutions for clients is sometimes like painting one fish on one piece of paper. “At first, you need everybody to share the same vision. Then, as the project develops, you add more paper, enlarging the canvas as the requirement becomes more complex. Suddenly, before you know it, you have an aquarium.”

The team lifts the trophy 

For Pierre-Denis, the 9X8 sums up – perhaps uniquely – Capgemini’s values of honesty, boldness, trust, freedom, fun, modesty, and team spirit. “Whether we are painting fish, creating AI-powered data platforms, or racing a hypercar more than 300 kph around a circuit, we’re all part of the same team. One person stands on the podium, but the whole team together lifts the trophy.”

We join forces with Peugeot Sport

Capgemini has joined forces with Peugeot Sport to accelerate and optimize the development of its hybrid hypercar, the Peugeot 9X8