Honda NSX brings ‘Hummingbird’ to life
- Honda NSX recreates famous ‘Hummingbird’ Nazca Desert geoglyph using GPS
- Sport Hybrid SH-AWD technology enables detail of original drawing to be replicated faithfully
- High-tech production and hardware captures the feat on video
- The ‘NSX Driving Drawing’ covered 601,195 square metres
Honda has combined its all-new NSX hybrid supercar with advanced GPS visualisation equipment to recreate one of the world’s most famous geoglyphs – huge artworks that can be viewed in full only from high altitude.
The incredible ‘NSX Driving Drawing’ – depicting the ‘Hummingbird’ geoglyph in the Nazca Desert in Peru – has been documented in an online video, released ahead of the 2016 Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit on Sunday 9 October.
The Nazca Lines geoglyphs in Peru, created between 500 B.C. and A.D. 500, are formed from shallow trenches, where the top layer of dark pebbles has been removed to expose a lighter-coloured layer of earth below. Over time, the exposed earth develops a protective layer that shields the drawn lines, preventing distortion or erosion.
While the original ‘Hummingbird’ is approximately 93 metres long, Honda ‘supersized’ the earthwork, with a final design more than 10 times the size, measuring 965 metres end to end. A high-resolution image of the Nazca Lines was used to trace and digitise the Hummingbird, producing a set of GPS co-ordinates accurate to within three metres.
The intricate design incorporates more than 30 hairpin turns, so the Honda NSX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD (Super Handling All-Wheel Drive) technology was crucial to achieving the precision cornering required to recreate the earthwork. The two electric motors driving the front axle meant the NSX could execute exceptionally tight turns, slowing the inner wheel in sharp corners, while increasing the drive on the outer wheel to accelerate through the hairpin.
Recreating the geoglyph required a huge effort from a joint Japan-US Honda team, using high-accuracy GPS mapping and tracking, as well as a head-mounted display to enable the NSX driver to follow the design precisely. While the car sped along the planned route, its GPS signal was tracked and displayed on a monitor in real time, revealing the giant 601,195 square-metre artwork to the team back at the staging site.
The feat took place on the El Mirage salt flats in California, which became an expansive white canvas for the day, with high-tech drones and camera cranes on hand to capture the event on video.
The all-new NSX is the ultimate representation of Honda performance and technical innovation. Power comes from a mid-mounted twin-turbocharged V6 engine, paired with an all-new nine-speed dual clutch transmission and direct drive motor that supplements the engine with instant torque response. Allied to this set up is the front Twin Motor Unit (TMU), with two electric motors capable of independently driving the left and right front wheels.
This sophisticated powertrain is coupled to Honda’s Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system, a first-of-its-kind technology in the supercar arena. The result is a supercar that faithfully translates the acceleration, steering and braking inputs of the driver with incredible fidelity and instantaneous response.