Formula 1 fans often find themselves defending their favourite sport. They might be told it is just a group of men driving round in circles or that it’s a sport the average person can’t participate in, so has no relevance, except to those who work in motorsport. However, the argument many fans put across is that the technology developed by the teams for the cars is transferrable and can influence many other areas of everyday life such as public transport and cycling. Recently, Williams F1 have developed a hi-tech carrier for critically ill new-borns, the Babypod 20.
It is a lightweight box with a transparent, sliding lid and a padded interior which is designed for transporting sick babies during their most vulnerable time. It is built from carbon fibre which is the same material used in the manufacturing of F1 cars and is being built by Williams Advanced Engineering who are based in Grove, Oxfordshire and are a sister business to the Williams F1 team. A firm called Advanced Healthcare Technology (AHT), who have been devising baby transport systems for a few years, have been working alongside Williams.
The Babypod 20 was initially being developed as an alternative to incubators, which were heavy and required an external electricity supply. They were also difficult to carry and move. The tricky thing about transporting babies is keeping the environmental temperature consistent and protecting them from vibration and noise. They also need to be closely monitored by medical staff. After the lightweight, practical design was developed by AHT, Williams got to work on the more advanced version which weighs just 20lbs and takes up very little space. It can also withstand an impact of up to 20G so if the ambulance or other transporting vehicle was involved in a collision, the Babypod 20 would protect the infant.
Initially it is being used by the Children’s Acute Transport Service of Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. There are plans to expand and market it elsewhere. Each pod costs £5,000.
Can you think of any other ways in which motorsport has influenced our everyday lives?