Wednesday, 04 Mar, 2009 Technology
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The Use of Formula 1 Innovations in the Real World

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To create a real F1 vehicle engineers and researchers apply the latest inventions in science and technology, use thousands of components and it takes years of development. New Scientist magazine presented a number of innovations that were created using different technologies that were initially developed for Formula 1 cars.


Life-Saving Carbon-fiber Incubator

This carbon-fiber incubator make it possible to transport ill newborns to hospital in a warm and secure way. Carbon fiber makes the cocoon tough and light. Previously doctors used a metal incubator, which was much heavier and it took several people to carry it. Usually an ambulance transported the heavy device. The new life-saving cocoon for babies, called Babypod II, was inspired by the cocoon of an F1 cockpit, which is both solid and impact-thwarting. Being lightweight, the new generation incubator can be carried by a single person. In addition, it needs less oxygen to fill than a usual incubator.


Monocoque Wheelchair

Mike Spindle is a British designer who developed this wheelchair. It is worth mentioning that before starting working on this innovation Mike Spindle accumulated years of experience creating F1 parts, including suspension, wheels and chassis. This wheelchair is world's first commercial product of its kind to feature a monocoque design, which in fact means that its power comes from the external skin and not from the chair's internal frame. With the help of this technology, the designer managed to develop a chair that is both lighter and stronger. The chair features a smart dynamic braking system. The user slows down and steers with the help of two hand levers, which can also lock the device when stationary. There's also an attachable automatic umbrella hidden on the back of the wheelchair. Without wheel the folded chair weights 9kg.


Shock Absorber Knee Brace

In order to decrease the level of bouncing on even surfaces, scientists use hydraulic dampers in F1 vehicles. A team of engineers at car builder McLaren managed to use the same technology in a lightweight knee brace, which has already been tested on US marines. It is worth mentioning that the marines quite often get injured when they stand in fast-moving inflatable boats that slam down quite hard after jumping waves. Thus, one's knee must absorb the level of energy similar to jumping off a 2.5 meter wall every couple of seconds. This shock absorber is able to control the bending of the knee and realign the person's leg prior to the future impact. The device can also be used to hold up injured knees after surgery.


Recycled Energy

In the picture you can see a spinning flywheel that is able to accumulate up to 600 kJ of energy for later use. It is worth mentioning that in 2009 F1 cars will use these flywheels to accumulate energy generated during braking. This idea is currently being investigated by different commercial car manufacturers, who look forward to reduce the use of fuel on roads.


Satellite Boost

In 2006 NASA launched its Hinode satellite with the goal of gathering important information regarding the way the activity of the Sun influences our planet. The technology used in the satellite was also developed by F1 engineers, who provided their help in developing a 3-metre-long telescope. They were able to make the telescope lighter and worked on the development of a housing which was strong enough to protect fragile tools from the shock of blast off.


Thin but Solid Table

This table is just 2mm thick and 4 meters long. It is both tough and light due to the fact that it is fully made of carbon fiber, which is widely used in the F1 industry. The designer of this table is John Barnard, who creates furniture using high-tech materials.


Beagle Mars Lander

The exhaust pipe of a Formula 1 car is made from a lightweight material able to resist the heat produced by the engine. While creating the Mars Lander engineers used the same lightweight material, which is perfect for protecting the spacecraft as it screams through the atmosphere of the red planet from space.


Carbon-fiber Relaxing and Entertaining Womb

This device looks like a cocoon. It was developed to provide a comfy and entertaining atmosphere for people who feel stressed and/or tired at the office. Inside, a person has the ability to control the climate, lighting, TV and audio. Some of the features used in this device were inspired from the F1 car's cockpit. The carbon-fiber "womb" was designed by Lee McCormack and constructed by specialists from McLaren.


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