Tour de France 2023: ChatGPT and IoT aim to make this the most interactive race yet

Tour de France 2022
(Image credit: / Radu Razvan)

As the 110th Tour De France prepares to roll out of Bilbao this weekend, viewers and fans around the world will be able to engage with the world’s biggest cycling race like never before.

NTT has been the official technology partner to race organizer Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) since 2015, playing a significant role in helping the race reach a much larger audience.

And with the Tour getting the Netflix documentary treatment in the recent “Unchained” series, NTT has worked with the ASO to ensure this year’s race is packed with more analysis and real-time statistics than ever before.

Digital twin

Since 2021, NTT has used its edge and Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities to provide the ASO with a “digital twin” of the race, giving the organizers real-time visibility of key locations and assets, as well as up-to-the-moment updates of caravan and race arrival times.

The twin is created using IoT sensors placed under the saddle of the 176 riders, which transmit a constant stream of geolocation data, including latitude, longitude, and speed data over radio networks to race motorcycles or a plane. This data is then sent via a microwave signal to NTT’s truck-based edge-computing hubs at the end of every stage, running a containerized version of the company’s real-time analytics platform.

For this year’s race, NTT now wants to boost this technology, harnessing millions of data points to create the world’s largest “connected stadium”, replicating all the aspects of the race, allowing the company to provide real-time alerts and information to the race organizers and broadcasters alike.

This can range from alerting the ASO of a crash in the peloton so that medical support can be dispatched, or updating the “catch predictor” tool for broadcasters to analyze whether the day’s breakaway will be caught.

NTT data truck tour de france

(Image credit: NTT)

“We are driving continuous innovation,” Joan Kuhrmann, NTT director, program management, told TechRadar Pro ahead of the race. “The power of our networking edge computing enables ASO to make these fast decisions…(and also) we want to give fans more of an insight into what's happening in the race.”

NTT’s insight also powers Marianne, the company’s AI-driven Digital Human solution, which is available to online fans across the world, but also those lucky enough to be live at the event.

Combining machine learning, speech recognition, natural language processing and conversational AI, the platform will feature ChatGPT for the first time in 2023, meaning Marianne can answer detailed questions about all aspects of the race, offering what Kuhrmann calls, “a completely different way for fans to engage” with the race.

Following the men’s event, NTT and the ASO will also be hard at work powering the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, which this year will feature the same full digital platform seen in the men’s race. 

“Our goal is making the coverage the best in the world of any women's race,” says Kuhrmann, noting that the expansion will help fans and broadcasters around the world experience the Tour de France Femmes just as they would the men’s event.

Mike Moore
Deputy Editor, TechRadar Pro

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.