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A driven goal and a winning formula

In terms of mobility, sustainability and efficiency – a great deal can be learned from Williams Advanced Engineering and DCS members had the opportunity to see this for themselves during a visit in April.

Williams Advanced Engineering is the technology and engineering services business of the Williams Group that also includes ROKiT Williams Racing. The company provides world-class technical innovation, engineering, testing and manufacturing services to deliver energy efficient performance to customers. The capabilities of the company’s people in new materials, electrification and battery technology, aerodynamics and thermodynamics, business performance and specialist low volume manufacturing apply across all sectors, not just automotive and motorsport but also aerospace and defence, energy and sports science to healthcare.

DCS visitors were given a guided tour of the facilities and were able to witness first-hand some of the ground-breaking projects being undertaken at the Williams Advanced Engineering site in Grove, Wantage (UK), many of which are collaborations with blue chip names such as Aston Martin, Nissan and Triumph Motorcycles. 

The technology being developed to reduce weight, create strong structural shapes and improve battery technology is not just confined to the automotive sector. For instance, the BabyPod 20 is a Formula One-inspired environment for new-born babies needing emergency transportation. Safety standards in F1 have dramatically improved over the years with the use of extremely strong but lightweight carbon fibre driver safety cells. Working in collaboration with Advanced Healthcare Technology (AHT), Williams Advanced Engineering designed and manufactured the Babypod 20 for the infant emergency transportation market.

Previously, this required the use of heavy and cumbersome incubators, devices which not only required an electricity supply, but also dedicated vehicles too. The Babypod 20 provides the environment that a baby needs at a significantly reduced price of a standard transport incubator. Lightweight and easy to handle, Babypod 20 can attach to any transport stretcher whether on a trolley or in an ambulance, car or even helicopter.

The hi-tech carbon fibre transport devices, which can withstand a 20 G-force crash, have been launched in intensive care ambulances used at Great Ormond Street Hospital. They have also been used by the Children Acute Transport Service, which also advised on design requirements.

Also on show was the Williams Advanced Engineering electric Brompton bike. In 2017 Brompton, manufacturer of the iconic folding bike, engaged the company to support on the production of an electrified version. 

Drawing on Williams Advanced Engineering’s experience in supplying high performance batteries to all ten teams in the FIA Formula E Championship over the last four seasons since the series’ inception, the Brompton Electric features a 300Wh battery, a lightweight and powerful front hub motor, intelligent sensors and connectivity.

Of particular interest to DCS members was the ability to view the Williams Advanced Engineering FW-EVX electric vehicle platform concept; a scalable platform that may underpin the next generation of electric vehicles.

At the core of this new platform is an innovative battery exoskeleton. This module protects the batteries and contributes to the overall structural rigidity. Engineered via a process of forming high-strength 3D structures from 2D materials, this battery casing will also support integrated battery cooling, a capability that is increasingly important as batteries become more powerful and temperature sensitive.

Williams Advanced Engineering has also developed new composite suspension components, including carbon fibre-reinforced wishbones that reduce weight over aluminium wishbones by up to 40 per cent. These composite components are not only light, but are also constructed via a new, heavily-automated process that produces almost zero waste and at comparable cost to traditional metal components.

Developed by in-house specialists in aerodynamics, electric systems, advanced lightweight structures and vehicle integration, the concept highlights Williams Advanced Engineering’s expertise in accelerating ground-up innovations into demonstrable products available to its customers.

The tour ended with a visit to the Williams Heritage Collection, giving an insight into the career of Sir Frank Williams and the company’s history, along with the chance to view a wide range of F1 memorabilia and race winning vehicles on display driven by icons such as Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Damon Hill, Nigel Mansell and Jenson Button.

The DCS would like to thank Williams Advanced Engineering for providing an absorbing insight into a fascinating world.

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