What British car, designed with America in mind, broke 63
American stock car records at Indianapolis over seven days?
Unlovely Austin A90 Atlantic
Autotrivia: I asked what British car, designed with
America in mind, broke 63 American stock car records at Indianapolis over seven
days? As unbelievable as it sounds, it was the Austin A90 Atlantic, which is
better remembered for the fact that its electric convertible top stuck in the
half open position for the entire New York show!
This time it’s F1 technology
Zircotec, a coatings manufacturer has discovered a new
application for their technology. The coatings have two applications in braking
systems. The first is a ceramic coating that is used as a heat barrier on F1
cars and the second is the new bicycle application
The UK based firm, formerly part of the UK’s Atomic Energy
Authority, originally developed its technologies for use in reactors and in the
last ten years has been expanding into new sectors with a greater emphasis on
composites. The solutions for composites can be separated into two categories;
those that protect against heat and those that protect against wear and
abrasion. For wear, the solutions are metal based and for temperature, they are
ceramic, notably zirconia. The composite materials that can be coated include
carbon fiber, sintered nylon and fiberglass.
High-temperature plasma-sprayed ceramic coatings can, on the
other hand, provide lightweight, easily packaged and highly durable thermal
barriers suitable for a wide range of highly aggressive environments. Zirconia
has a thermal efficiency of less than 1.7 W/m K (compared with 4 W/m K for
alumina), creating a coating that is very effective at inhibiting the radiation
of heat from a surface
Believed to be the only product of its type available
commercially, the process is so effective it allows composites to function in
temperatures above their melting point; testing for a typical application gave a
reduction in composite surface temperature of more than 125บC. This has been
particularly useful in 2010 for F1 brake components such as air ducts. “With no
refuelling in F1 this year, the cars are heavier and the brakes are under higher
strains,” says Zircotec’s sales director Peter Whyman.
Just like F1 teams, suppliers don’t stand still and one of
Zircotec’s latest projects is refining anti-wear coatings that are expected to
make a big impact in the cycling world. “Our ultra thin ceramic coating provides
a tough, long lasting solution which allows cyclists to retain the simplicity
and weight benefits of rim brakes and achieve improvements in stopping distance,
wear and wet weather performance,” suggests Whyman.
Up until now, however, using carbon as a braking surface has
led to compromises in brake performance, notably in wet weather conditions or
where high temperatures are experienced such as on steep descents. Cork-based
pads reduce the risk of damage to the rim surface but these can disintegrate in
the wet. Other methods, such as aluminum braking rings or switching to more
complex disc setups negate the weight benefits of a carbon wheel.
Whether we like it or not, the new technologies are all
around us, and being applied in all kinds of different ways. Imagine a computer
keyboard where the numbers and letters don’t wear off!
Is your engine about to
We have all become used to on-board computers that can tell
us how many km before the tank runs dry, and how much fuel we are consuming at
this speed, etc., etc., etc. But what about an on-board computer that can tell
you the engine is about to expire?
Trimble MRM, an expert in telematics, has developed an in-vehicle
black-box - officially called the TVG660 - which is already provided to some of
the UK’s largest fleets, and is now being made available to the public, and is
called ‘Driver DNA’.
Andrew Yeoman, managing director of Trimble MRM Europe says,
“The technology provides real-time information on vehicle condition as well as
fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions. This would mean the worry over breakdowns
will be a thing of the past. We’ve already seen how useful ‘Driver DNA’ is to
our fleet clients but families could also benefit hugely from having it in their
The pioneering device sends alerts with information on engine,
health, faults and even battery life, improving both fuel economy and of course,
the dreaded repair and breakdown costs.
Used sensibly, you can begin to predict when your vehicle
really needs servicing, and whether or not it is well enough to drive to Bangkok
or Nakhon Nowhere. I won’t put one on my Mira. It would tell me not to drive it
out of the car port.
Formula 1 technology for
A new British company uses motor sport technology to create
objective analysis and measurement physiotherapy products to improve patient
assessment, condition and the need for surgical intervention.
This new organization, combining Formula 1 technology and the
experience of one of Britain’s most renowned research physiotherapists aims to
advance patient rehabilitation and conditioning techniques.
The Gatherer Partnership, created by Don Gatherer and
motorsport engineering expert John Bailey, will develop a range of innovative
products and support packages that for the first time, offer physiotherapists
accurate and objective data for the management of neuromusculoskeletal
conditions. Data such as peak force and fatigue rating of voluntary muscle
contraction will enable physiotherapists to assess the patient’s true condition,
determine the need for surgery as well as the ability to create and administer
bespoke conditioning and rehabilitation programs.
“Physiotherapy often relies on subjective data that can
affect recovery levels and times,” says Don Gatherer. “Our equipment will
provide information on what the patient really can achieve and how their
condition is developing over time. Extensive work undertaken with rugby players
suggests we can improve recovery times too.”
To acquire such objective data, The Gatherer Partnership is
incorporating electronic measurement devices that are typically found in F1
racing cars. “Using load-cells and associated telemetry will introduce
previously unseen levels of accuracy, repeatability and quality data to the
physiotherapy profession,” says John Bailey. “It genuinely can revolutionize the
role of the physiotherapist.”
Aside from the professional sports sector where Gatherer, a
former Great Britain Olympic and England rugby physio is highly regarded, The
Gatherer Partnership expects its tools to be relevant to a range of applications
including defense, medical, insurance and leisure industries. “Examples include
physical fitness assessments and monitoring at a gym or whether a physical
injury claim was legitimate,” suggests Bailey. “Users would have access to
objective data on a patient’s condition and its progression based on actual data
rather than a subjective assessment. This could be very useful to the insurance
industry or even for benefits agencies for example.”
Almost 4,000 people are killed on the world’s roads every
day, according to the campaigning charity RoadPeace which is marking National
Road Victim Month. So who was the UK’s first fatal car accident victim - 114
years ago - and what happened?
There were little more than a handful of petrol cars in
Britain when Bridget Driscoll, 44, took a trip to the Crystal Palace, south-east
London, on 17 August 1896. She could be forgiven for being bewildered by Arthur
Edsall’s imported Roger-Benz which was part of a motoring exhibition taking
place as she attended a Catholic League of the Cross fete with her 16 year-old
daughter, May, and a friend.
At the inquest, Florence Ashmore, a domestic servant, gave
evidence that the car went at a ‘tremendous pace’, like a fire engine - ‘as fast
as a good horse could gallop’.
On the other side, the driver, working for the Anglo-French
Motor Co, said that he was doing 4 mph when he killed Mrs Driscoll and that he
had rung his bell and shouted.
One of Mr Edsell’s two passengers during the exhibition ride,
Ellen Standing, told the inquest she heard the driver shout “stand back” and
then the car swerved.
Mrs Driscoll had hesitated in front of the car and seemed
“bewildered” before being hit, the inquest heard.
Edsell had been driving only three weeks at the time and -
with no license requirement - had been given no instruction as to which side of
the road to keep to (very similar to some of the drivers in Pattaya).
With conflicting reports about the speed and manner of Mr
Edsall’s driving, the jury returned an accidental death verdict.
Nonetheless, the National Motor Museum’s libraries officer
Patrick Collins admits there was “quite a lot of anti-car feeling” in the UK at
the time. “A lot of people didn’t want drivers running around the country
scaring horses,” he explained, adding that there were fewer than 20 petrol cars
in Britain at the time.
These first cars were subject to strict safety laws which had
been designed for steam locomotives weighing up to 12 tonnes. Each vehicle was
expected to have a team of three in control; the driver, the fireman - to stoke
the engine - and the flagman, whose job was to walk 60 yards in front waving a
red flag to warn horse-drawn traffic of the machine’s approach.
The flag requirement was ditched in 1865 and the walking
distance reduced to 20 yards, although speed limits of 2 mph in towns and 4 mph
in the country remained in place.
Mrs Driscoll died just a few weeks after a new Parliamentary
act - designed for the new and lighter petrol, electricity and steam-driven cars
- raised the speed limit to 14 mph, while the flagman role was scrapped
The coroner told her inquest that he hoped hers would be the
last death in this sort of accident. Little did he know how times would change
over the following century, with the Royal Society for the Prevention of
Accidents estimating more than 550,000 people have been killed on Britain’s
roads since then (and Thailand’s road traffic accident experience is even
accident way back then