People often look at cutting edge fields of anything and consider it a waste of time and money. They hear that NASA has spent X number of billions on developing a new rocket, or Formula one cars cost tens of millions do develop, put together trial run and eventually race in and they think it’s money being thrown away. The problem with that theory though, is that the technologies developed by these cutting edge fields trickle down to the mainstream from time to time. That’s why it’s interesting to look at some of the newer features these industries have, to see where we might be with our of tech in years to come.
Formula 1 cars for instance, have had a lot of focus put on safety in recent years. While drivers in the last century might have had a good chance of dying on the track, today, those chances are much slimmer thanks to heavy investment in safety measures and new technologies.
Wired has been doing a breakdown of some of the most important ones and a lot of them are to do with allowing a driver to withstand the forces received during a high speed crash. For example, today, there are hundreds of safety regulations that each vehicle must adhere too. Drivers are only given the all clear to drive if they’re able to exit the vehicle within five seconds by removing only the seatbelt and steering wheel. Similarly, they must be able to reenter the vehicle at the same speed.
While that isn’t something we’re likely to see in a commercial vehicle any time soon, we could potentially see removable seats. As an added safety feature against spinal injuries, F1 seats must be able to be removed wholesale, meaning drivers that are critically injured can be kept immobile during the extraction.
Telematics like hardware is also used to measure impact forces, giving doctors on the scene an in-depth look at what potential damage a driver may have suffered as the result of a crash. These are actually being implemented in modern telematics systems for consumer vehicles also and come as part of high-end concierge services with some manufacturers, allowing the car maker to get in touch with emergency services in the event of an accident.
Some technologies that may not be included in our vehicles, but could see some measure of implementation in the future, include fireproof clothing, that is able to withstand temperatures of over 800 degrees Celsius, without impacting the interior temperature of the suit (for a maximum of 11 seconds) and a lightweight, but sturdy kevlar and carbon fibre helmet. The visor even includes an anti-fogging chemical, which prevents it steaming up.
There’s also a head and neck support system known as a HANS, which connects the helmet and the seat together, absorbing impacts from the vehicle and making sure that the G forces applied to the driver do not stress the neck muscles or spine in a way that it cannot handle.
However as the report points out, not all of these features make for the most comfortable of driving experiences. Perhaps that’s a fair price to pay for staying alive.
We’ll leave that for you to decide.
All photo credits to FormulaOne.com