The original Dakar rally started in 1978 at Paris, France, and consisted of an off-road endurance race (or a “rally raid”) to Dakar, Senegal. Security threats in 2008 cancelled this rally and since then, the organizers have held the event in South America, in Argentina and Chile. The race is across rough terrain, which includes sand dunes, mud, grass on rocks. It’s known as the longest and most difficult rally in the world and professional and amateur teams that take part have some of the toughest of equipment available to deal with the challenge. One such team is Honda Racing Corporation, participating in the Dakar Rally 2016, which takes place in Argentina and Bolivia in early January 2016. Motorsport relies on advertising and sponsors and with this in mind, Kyocera have announced that they are sponsoring the Honda team and supplying ruggedized devices for telemetry and communication during the race.
In the detail, the Honda team will be carrying Kyocera’s rugged Android smartphones and use them for the purposes of monitoring the team’s motorbikes, including performance and log information, plus keeping in touch. Kyocera’s range of ultra-rugged smartphones are rated in the US military standard MIL-STF-810G for eleven categories including dust, shock, high and low temperatures, humidity and liquid immersion, although interestingly Kyocera’s website explains that whilst the smartphone passed the tests, full operation cannot be guaranteed under these conditions. There is also no guarantee that the device will not be damaged. Kyocera’s range of five smartphones across the world include a technology called Smart Sonic Receiver Technology, which is designed to transmit sound (as vibrations) directly to the user’s eardrum rather than via the air between the device and the ear. The advantage of this technology is that it makes the device much easier to use in noisy environments. The devices also feature dual front, loud, speakers as well to help push through any background noise. The devices also comes with touchscreens that work when the operator is wearing gloves or has wet fingers, plus the devices come with hard keys for navigation and speakerphone operation – two features that perhaps the Honda team will find useful during the rally raid.
Taichi Honda, Team HRC Rally Project Leader, said this on the announcement: “The Dakar Rally isn’t just the ultimate test of our vehicles, it’s a test for every piece of equipment we use. We’re confident knowing that Kyocera’s mobile devices will provide the durable and reliable wireless communication that’s absolutely vital to our competitiveness in the race.”