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F1 technology provides safe transport for infants

04 July 2017

The same technology that protects F1 drivers is being used to create a small pod that protects new-borns and young children needing emergency transportation.

‘Babypod 20’ (Credit: Advanced Healthcare Technology)

The engineering branch of F1 racing team Williams Group and Advanced Healthcare Technology (AHT) have designed and manufactured the ‘Babypod 20’. It’s designed to provide a safe and temperature regulated environment that a baby needs to be transported and at a much lower cost of a standard incubator. It can be attached to any stretcher, whether that is in a hospital, ambulance or helicopter, and is lightweight and easy to handle. Made from hi-tech carbon fibre, it can withstand a 20 G-force crash.

The pod has been launched in Intensive Care Ambulances used at Great Ormond Street Hospital and run by the Children Acute Transport Service, who provided advice on some of the design requirements. 

Speaking about the project, Craig Wilson, Managing Director of Williams Advanced Engineering, commented: “The parallels between a Formula One car and transport device for babies may not be immediately apparent, but both demand a lightweight and strong structure that keeps the occupant safe in the event of an accident, and can monitor vital signs whilst remaining easily transportable and accessible.

“We have taken the existing Babypod product and worked with AHT to create a device that is not only more compact and user-friendly but, crucially, can be scaled up in its production so that more hospitals can benefit from this Formula One-inspired technology.”

Mark Lait, the Design Director of Advanced Healthcare Technology, said: “Our focus over the last ten years has been to provide safe transport and occupancy devices for babies and small children. Assisting the talented teams of specialist Doctors, Nurses and Technicians to retrieve sick babies and transport them to the most suitable ‘centres of excellence’ for the life-saving treatment they require.

“As a UK company we are particularly pleased to have the opportunity to work with the designers and engineers at Williams, to develop this ‘next generation’ of BabyPods, and to harness their knowledge and skills to make this new model available. This design, with reduced weight and increased strength, has also delivered improved features of protection against vibration and noise and of course the dangers related to impact, which inevitably sometimes occur with medical vehicles traveling at speed.”

Since AHT’s collaboration with Williams Advanced Engineering in 2015, accessibility of the pod has been improved with a slide and tilt mechanism and the design has been changed to reduce the weight and improve the crash test results. 

The manufacture of the pods takes place at Williams headquarters in Oxfordshire, the same place it makes its F1 cars each season. 

More information can be found on the AHT and Williams Advanced Engineering websites.

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