Carbon fibre pod designed with F1 technology keeps babies safe in ambulances

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The same technology that keeps Formula One drivers out of danger in the event of a crash is being used to help new-born babies stay safe in ambulances, as Stuart McDill reports.

BRITAIN (Reuters) - A carbon fibre pod has been redesigned to keep the most precious cargo safe.

Advanced Healthcare Technology ,or AHT, asked Williams Formula One team to redesign their Babypod - to get new born infants to hospital in one piece.

"This challenge of providing a lightweight, strong pod to put infants in to be moved around is absolutely the same challenge virtually as we're trying to tackle in the main chassis of a Formula 1 car. We need it to be strong, we need it to be light and we need it to be crash proof so it's the same challenges," Technical Director at Williams Advanced Engineering Paul Mcnamara said.

Babypod 20 provides 5 layers of protection and does away with cumbersome incubators that need dedicated ambulances. Now it can attach to stretchers in ambulances, cars or even helicopters and its carbon fibre shell can withstand a 20 G-force crash.

"20 G (gravities) within the context of an ambulance, being strapped down, is giving a really good level of protection there and I think more than a comfortable level that really it will never need to really see in real life. So we're engineering above what will be needed," Mcnamara added.

Many innovations developed for Formula One racing become standard on normal cars - a tradition Williams wants to continue.

"Motorsport has led a lot of the things that have appeared subsequently in mainstream automotive, so I think developments around battery technology, around hybrids, around ABS systems, aerodynamics. The motorsport dimension has allowed some of those things to be tested out and then the understanding comes down. I guess at Williams we're trying to, in addition to bring it into automotive trying to bring it into other fields as well," said Mcnamara.

Babypod 20s are now being used by the UK's Children Acute Transport Service.

Williams says it expects to make around 500 Babypods this year.

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