The Future Grand Prix: McLaren’s vision for all-electric Formula One in 2050
Check out a video about the project below.
What’s going to happen to Formula One when it goes fully electric, and today’s lack of overtaking is added to tomorrow’s lack of sound to create the fastest yawn-fest on wheels? McLaren has been thinking a lot about how to save premier-tier motorsport in the future, and has presented a vision for a 2050 electric Grand Prix.
first things first, mclaren doesn’t expect cars to be airborne by 2050. it even goes as far as to say that flying race cars are the antithesis of grand prix racing. ‘we expect the grand prix car of the future to still have four open wheels, drive to the rear and a human in the cockpit. but that’s where the similarities end.‘ what mclaren envisions is a 500km/h (310mph) rear-wheel drive electric car concept powered by a ‘foldable battery moulded to the aerodynamic package’.
according to their research, racing could offer a great stimulus in the development of technologies like artificial intelligence. closed-top cabins featuring ‘shape-shifting’ aerodynamics will host drivers who are connected to AI via a symbiotic link in the helmet and sensors within the race suit. the AI learns and predicts the driver’s preferences and state-of-mind, provides real-time race strategy and key information via a holographic head-up display. what’s more, the translucent bodywork on the car will be keyed to the driver’s bio-feedback, changing color according to their emotion: ‘when the AI senses the driver is frustrated or angry, the car will glow red.‘
‘racing could become an incubator for the development of AI, just as it has for simulation, big data and material science‘, the report continues. ‘the driver of the future will receive less information from the pitwall, and rely instead on an AI co-pilot. engineering an evermore powerful and intuitive AI will be a significant performance differentiator in grand prix racing by 2050.‘
recognizing governmental support for zero-emission vehicles around the world, mclaren believes by 2050 grand prix racing will be all-electric. as well as a flexible battery, it believes cumbersome plug-in power will be a thing of the past. in its place? wireless energy transfer by resonant inductive coupling (like a wireless phone charger but on a larger scale). with MCLE, cars will literally charge their batteries from the ground up.
not only will cars change but the tracks they race on will face a similarly dramatic transformation. fans demand longer, wider race tracks – with banking – and because of higher speeds, that banking will be steeper and far more aggressive than anything seen before.
smart cities will give us the chance to put the track action on people’s doorsteps,’ says rodi basso, motorsport director at mclaren applied technologies. ‘why confine the grand prix cars of tomorrow to the tracks of today? the italian grand prix of 2050 would still run through the heart of one of the largest historical parks in europe, but go on to scythe its way through the streets of milan city centre, before making its way back to monza’s leafy park.‘ according to him, smart cities will give them the chance to put the track on people’s doorsteps.
much like its projections for the future, mclaren’s 2050 concept places fans at the center of the action. as well as calling upon experts in a range of different professions during its extensive research process, mclaren turned to fans with whom it describes as ‘the sport’s most important stakeholders‘. one question it fails to address however, is if the fans will still be there in 2050? some predict that an evolution in technology and the impact of autonomous transportation could reduce driving to a niche hobby. others believe that there will be a rise in people looking to participate in the sport as they seek to replace their emotional connection to driving. either technology will see the demise of formula 1 racing altogether or it will be crucial to it’s longevity. what do you think?