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Grand Prix 2050: as envisioned by McLaren

25 January 2019

McLaren Applied Technologies’ concept includes a shape-shifting car with self-repairing tyres, an e-pitlane and an AI controlled co-pilot!

MCLExtreme (Credit: McLaren Applied Technologies)

Experts in powertrain, aerodynamics, design, materials technology, data science and human performance have come together to bring you MCLExtreme (MCLE) – the grand prix car of the future. The vision combines technologies such as artificial intelligence, autonomy, electrification and mixed reality. 

A shape shifter 

The need for greater efficiency will mean the car has the capability to alter its shape to maximise velocity. Inspired by nature, the MCLE has sidepods that expand and contract like the gills of a shark. They turn into a 311mph bullet on the straights then expand as the car brakes and corners, to provide stability and control. 

Artificial Intelligence 

AI will have a major part to play in 2050. McLaren Applied Technologies believes the driver of the future will receive less information from the pitwall and instead rely on an AI co-pilot. Driver and AI will be connected via sensors in the helmet and race suit, that way the AI can learn and predict the driver's preferences and state-of-mind as well as tailor advice based on their mood and emotional state. A holographic head-up display will provide the driver with real-time race strategy and key information.

Electrification

It's fair to say that by 2050, grand prix racing will be all-electric. In the UK there are already plans to see that all new cars will be zero-emission by 2040. 

So, picture a car with a small electric motor married to a flexible battery, with the potential to be moulded into the aerodynamics of the bodywork. The best part – when it comes to charging, the car may even be able to steal energy from the one ahead! 

Storing the energy will be the real challenge. McLaren Applied Technologies expect plug-in power to be a short term solution so maybe cars of the future will charge wirelessly. They see the MCLE absorbing power from the ground via inductive resonant coupling. 

"Whether it will be possible in 2050 to fully charge the battery of a grand prix car from flat in less time than it takes a current Formula 1 car to complete a flying lap around the streets of Monaco is difficult to say at this stage," posits Stephen Lambert, Head of Automotive Electrification at McLaren Applied Technologies. "But charging about 10 to 50% of the battery in around 10 to 30 seconds is conceivable.

"Charging wirelessly sees electromagnetic induction used to transfer energy through an air gap from one magnetic coil buried under the track to a second magnetic coil fitted to the car," Lambert explains. 

"When the car is sufficiently positioned for the coils to be aligned, it will induce a current in the car’s coil which feeds into the battery."

E-pitlane

With self-repairing tyres and no fuel to replenish, the pitlane becomes redundant. Instead, we'll see the formation of an e-pitlane with inductive charging tracks so drivers can charge cars on the go. The slower they drive down the e-pitlane the more charge they get!

McLaren Applied Technologies has bought this concept to life by listening to fans and delving into the currents trends of today and applying them to the future.

More information and images can be found here.

Video courtesy of McLaren


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