Zapata AI, Andretti race into deeper generative AI collaboration

Generative AI software company Zapata AI and the Andretti INDYCAR motorsports organization said they will be working together for a third straight racing season as they continue to explore how Zapata AI’s technology can be used to improve race strategy and performance.

As the 2024 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season begins with the March 10 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding, the partners stated, “Working trackside, in the Race Analytics Command Center mobile engineering unit, and virtually from their different locations, the engineering and competition teams plan to use Zapata AI Sense – running on the company’s Orquestra platform – and other tooling to build an improved technology stack for specific use cases, including race strategy and data signal generation.”

Zapata AI has described Orquestra as an industrial generative AI software platform, while AI Sense can be used for a variety of applications, including creating virtual sensors that deliver real-time data from vehicles during races; and optimization, predictive modeling, and anomaly detection that leverage “math based on quantum physics,” according to the Boston-based company.

“We are excited to keep learning from Andretti and continue our joint, tangible progress on resolving the technology challenges we face,” commented Christopher Savoie, CEO and co-founder of Zapata AI. “Industrial Generative AI has the potential to enable us to generate the best possible solutions based on the available data to optimize critical factors, such as how to keep fuel consumption at a minimum while sticking to a pit-stop strategy and creating ‘virtual’ sensors to predict the slip angle of a car as it corners at high speeds. And those are only two examples. There are many more that we’ll be tackling this season and beyond.”

While Zapata AI and Andretti already have experimented with some of the capabilities mentioned above, some of the highest-impact initiatives for the 2024 season are expected to include:

  • Streaming data and machine learning applications: real-time analytics based on live streaming data can streamline decision-making processes and provide insights that can be immediately acted upon, potentially offering a competitive edge

  • Predictive capabilities for lap times, yellow flag occurrences and tire degradation

  • Improved virtual sensor simulation with generative AI, with inclusion of more track-related and other static features

  • Inclusion of data and model performance monitoring tools for live stream monitoring capabilities.

“The Zapata AI team has been an outstanding partner in upgrading our race strategy infrastructure to leverage the latest tools for analytics, data streaming, and generative AI,” said Eric Bretzman, Technical Director at Andretti Global. “Their Orquestra platform has been an ideal environment for managing our data and integrating the most applicable open-source tools available, in addition to benchmarking and testing changes we make to the architecture. We’re looking forward to expanding on these capabilities in our third season together.”

This news arrives as Zapata AI is nearing the completion of a merger with Andretti Acquisition Corp., a “blank check” special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) closely tied to Andretti Global, which operates the Andretti INDYCAR racing team. Former race car driver Michael Andretti is co-CEO of the SPAC and founder and CEO of Andretti Global. The merger was approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission and by shareholders last month, and is expected to soon result in Zapata AI becoming a publicly-traded company. Zapata AI began life in 2017 as Zapata Computing, and was more focused on quantum computing before recasting itself as a generative AI firm that leverages quantum techniques and algorithms. The company began its technology partnership with Andretti in 2022.