Monday, 17 Oct, 2011 Technology
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Formula One Technologies That Are Used Outside the Racing Track

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Loads of money is continuously invested in Formula 1 racing, with technologies in this area improving endlessly.

Some companies like McLaren Group thought that using the ideas implemented in F1 vehicles could serve the humanity in many other ways.

Below you can find some of the most interesting uses of F1 technologies in the non-racing fields.

Carbon-Fiber

This is the most popular product created for F1 cars. Because it is lightweight and very durable, the material is today used to make various goods. The aerospace industry widely uses carbon fiber in manufacturing aircrafts and the military makes use of this material to make armor and weapons. Although this material has been used in the 1960s, the results were not so promising.

The true revolution came in the field of racing. John Barnard, a British engineer teamed up with McLaren to create the first carbon-fiber composite monocoque. The product hit the market in 1981. Today carbon fiber is also used to make helmets, gadgets, wheelchairs and bicycles that are very light and durable.


Boots

After abandoning the use of tires without grooves in Formula 1 cars, engineers started working on new technologies to make tires. They managed to come up with a new type of rubber that is not only durable by non-slippery as well. This rubber was used to create various products outside the track. One of them is the very effective non-slip boots.


Boilers and Radiators

Another outcome of the F1 development is a rather simple fitting for a boiler. It would be interesting to note that F1 engine oil filters make use of strong magnets that pull iron and magnetite out of the oil so they would not impact the precision-milled surfaces of the vehicle's engine. Similar particles were found in boilers and radiators, and their presence usually damaged these devices. By developing an in-line filter with the technology used in F1 car engine, engineers managed to make radiators and boilers more efficient. At the same time the new technology led to a considerable cut in energy consumption.


Advanced Telemetry

One of the latest technologies used by McLaren is the advanced telemetry system. It allows using sensors to monitor information feeds and thus facilitate real-time strategy and decision making.

Medicine

According to Geoff McGrath, the head of the Applied Technologies department, the company decided to use the technology to monitoring people. He mentioned that the advanced telemetry has already been used on patients that underwent a weight loss program at one of the hospitals in Norfolk. Sensors attached to the patients sent useful information on their health indicators to the doctors.

Sports

The technology has also been used to improve the results of athletes. It has been tested on British athletes in several Olympic disciplines like canoeing, where sensors make certain estimations each time the athlete applies force on the water. The data is then sent to a computer where specialists analyze it to make certain adjustments to the technique and see whether the athlete needs to rest.

Workplace

The same technology can be used in workplace, says Mr McGrath. It allows managers to control the behavior and results of their employees, delivering information that could help obtain the best optimum results. Sensors can provide information on a worker's health and wellbeing. Let's say that one of the employees has a high stress level or did not have a good night sleep. In such condition it is not advised to make important decisions.


Virtual Simulators

The advances in Formula 1 racing led to the creation of a complex motorsport simulator. The McLaren team uses one of its virtual simulators (the company has 2) to drive on virtual circuits. The whole process looks like playing a very sophisticated video game.

The structure features a large semi-spherical screen that offers a 180-degrees view. In front of the screen engineers mounted a seat on rails along with a powerful sound system that replicates the real-world environment. The technology not only trains drivers but also helps specialists design a car. They manufacture a car in the virtual world and then the driver caries out a number of tests. Based on the results of these tests, the team makes decisions regarding the developed vehicle.


Saving Fuel

Williams F1 managed to come up with flywheel energy storage technology, and equipped the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid with it. According to AT&T Williams F1's CEO Alex Burns, the flywheel represents a great solution to saving fuel. The technology could be widely used in different means of public transport, including buses and trams. He also added that the company is working on a much larger version of this technology to cut the total power consumption of a metro train.


More to Come

Various technologies used on the track can help in many other fields. In marketing they could help obtain valuable information on what motivates buyers in their decisions. The innovations may also help companies build a good reputation or improve it.


It would be also interesting to note that in 2009 Williams Technology Centre opened in Qatar a unique facility aimed at developing F1 technologies beyond the track. Williams F1 teamed up with social enterprise Silatech, a company founded by Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned, to come up with a program that would help support entrepreneurship among the young people of Qatar and the Middle East, thus attempting to solve the problem of unemployment.

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