UKMOD and F1 motorsport race ahead to provide battlefield technology

Tech­nol­o­gy cur­rent­ly used in For­mu­la 1 rac­ing cars could help our troops on the front line, the MOD’s Lord Astor has said.

Jackal armoured vehicle
Rac­ing dri­ver Andrew Jar­man (left) and Troop­er Oliv­er Par­sons sit on a Williams For­mu­la 1 rac­ing car in front of a Jack­al armoured vehi­cle
Source: Ste­fan Rousseau/PA Wire
Click to enlarge

Cos­worth, who sup­ply For­mu­la 1 engines and elec­tron­ics, has been award­ed two defence con­tracts to explore how tech­nolo­gies used to pro­tect rac­ing dri­vers could pro­tect front line troops.

The first con­tract is for a mil­i­tary vehi­cle acci­dent data recorder that could cap­ture infor­ma­tion about the sever­i­ty of inci­dents, such as impro­vised explo­sive device (IED) blasts, and dis­play it in a sim­ple, easy-to-read for­mat.

The data could be used to bet­ter under­stand the inci­dent, aid­ing in the devel­op­ment both of equip­ment and the tac­tics, tech­niques and pro­ce­dures used to counter IEDs.

The sec­ond con­tract is for a blast event and vehi­cle integri­ty sys­tem intend­ed to allow a rapid assess­ment of the con­di­tion of a vehi­cle fol­low­ing an inci­dent.

The infor­ma­tion could be used by engi­neers to assess a vehicle’s con­di­tion, and poten­tial­ly spot ‘hid­den’ dam­age, such as twist­ing of the chas­sis, more eas­i­ly.

It could also be used by com­man­ders in the field to inform deci­sions on the best course of action fol­low­ing a blast — whether to con­tin­ue or to return to base for repairs, for instance.

It com­bines Cosworth’s motor­sport sen­sor and data acqui­si­tion tech­nol­o­gy with blast sim­u­la­tion mod­el­ling from GRM Con­sult­ing Ltd.

Jackal armoured vehicle
Rac­ing dri­ver Andrew Jar­man gets behind the wheel of the Jack­al while Troop­er Oliv­er Par­sons remains seat­ed on the Williams For­mu­la 1 rac­ing car
Source: Ste­fan Rousseau/PA Wire
Click to enlarge

Lord Astor of Hev­er, speak­ing at a Motor­sport Indus­try Asso­ci­a­tion event at the House of Lords on Thurs­day 8 July 2010, said:

“Mar­ry­ing motor­sport tech­nol­o­gy and mil­i­tary need is an excit­ing and inno­v­a­tive way for­ward.

“In the Cen­tre for Defence Enter­prise the MOD has a very good mech­a­nism for embrac­ing cut­ting-edge research that could ben­e­fit our troops in the future.”

Chief Exec­u­tive of the Cos­worth Group, Tim Rout­sis, said:

“We are delight­ed to be using our elec­tron­ics exper­tise to assist in the military’s attempts to improve the safe­ty of our troops in Afghanistan. It is encour­ag­ing to see how the MOD is recog­nis­ing the poten­tial of the tech­nol­o­gy avail­able in busi­ness­es like Cos­worth.”

These con­tracts are just two exam­ples of how work­ing with the motor­sport indus­try has pro­vid­ed enhance­ments to mil­i­tary equip­ment. Oth­ers include:

  • The NAR Group drew on their expe­ri­ence of sup­ply­ing equip­ment for the Paris-Dakar Ral­ly to design a new dust-proof cool­ing sys­tem now used on the Pan­ther, Mas­tiff and Ridg­back armoured vehi­cles, increas­ing the num­ber of vehi­cles avail­able for oper­a­tions.
  • Lola Com­pos­ites Ltd, who spe­cialise in the man­u­fac­ture of rac­ing car bod­ies, are con­tribut­ing their exper­tise in help­ing to build the Watch­keep­er Remote­ly Pilot­ed Air Sys­tem.
  • Williams Hybrid Pow­er Ltd has adapt­ed its tech­nol­o­gy to devel­op an electro­mechan­i­cal fly­wheel to increase the pow­er effi­cien­cy of diesel gen­er­a­tors that pow­er for­ward oper­at­ing bases in Afghanistan.

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK