Published on August 7, 2014

Race car of future — 4 electric motors, no brakes!

Dunlop Motorsports photo
The race car of the future, as envisioned by designer Sergio Rinland based on ideas submitted to the 'Dunlop Future Race Car Challenge.'

BIRMINGHAM, England (Aug. 7, 2014) — The race car of the future will feature an electric motor powering each wheel, camera navigation, a morphing shape with no wings needed for downforce, intelligent, adaptive tires, etc.

That’s according to a design penned by renowned race car designer Sergio Rinland, based on ideas submitted by race fans to the “Dunlop Future Race Car Challenge.”

The project, announced by Dunlop Motorsports this past spring in connection with the 125th anniversary of the invention of the practical pneumatic tire by John Boyd Dunlop, challenged individuals from various corners of the automotive community to come up with ideas for what race cars might appear 125 years in the future.

Dunlop teamed up with GreenGT, BAE systems, Imperial College of London and Flybrid Automotive to produce videos with their thoughts on the future of powertrains, aerodynamics, brakes and tires. The videos were intended to inspire motorsport enthusiasts and budding designers to either sketch or describe their ideas on the future of each component.

Dunlop took the entries and passed them along to Mr. Rinland, the Argentinian engineer and designer, who was tasked with trying to incorporate them into a single design concept. A video featuring Mr. Rinland discussing the project can be viewed on YouTube.

Dunlop Motorsport photo
Segio Rinland

Dunlop Motorsports described Mr. Rinland as a designer with a “long and illustrious history” in motorsports, having worked with Formula 1 racing teams Williams, Brabham, Sauber and Benetton, as well as Eagle-Toyota IndyCar and team Opel in the German Touring Car Championship.

Mr. Rinland now runs his own consultancy company — ASTAUTO Ltd./Automotive Engineering & Management Solutions — working on IndyCar, GP2 and LMP sportscars, etc.

ASTAUTO also is involved in alternative energy developments, electric and hybrid car projects.

Among the specifics Mr. Rinland incorporated into his design:

Electric powertrain —

The vehicle will be powered by four electric motors positioned initially within the car’s chassis, but as motors become lighter and more powerful, they will become in-wheel motors, providing even more flexibility on the track.

With one individual motor per wheel, the car has the capability of “torque vectoring” between each tire — i.e., administering torque at each wheel will improve the aerodynamic efficiency and the use of tires, as it will no longer be necessary for the wheels to turn when approaching a corner.

Mr. Rinland envisions the motor design initially as a hydrogen fuel-cell electricity generator on-board, with a small Li-Ion battery as a power buffer. As the technology develops, this design has the possibility to incorporate induction-charging pads on-board, drawing power from a charging infrastructure built into the tracks themselves.

This development would allow the cars to run without having to carry the energy on-board, which will make this vehicle even more efficient and lighter.

Adaptive aerodynamics —

The car would use piezoelectric materials in its composite-materials laminate, creating an “adaptive bodywork” that would allow the vehicle to change its shape to reduce drag on the straights, increase downforce in the corners and control cooling needs as the car runs.

By incorporating nanoparticles into these composite materials, the structure of the car will have further enhanced strength, lightness and safety features, Mr. Rinland envisions.

Cameras positioned around the car and small screens inside the driver’s canopy will provide 360-degree peripheral vision, rather than vision through traditional car mirrors, enhancing safety alongside reducing drag.

Intelligent tires —

Using technology that Dunlop is developing, tires will have internal sensors to send information to the control systems, which would then be able to adapt the suspension, power delivery and braking systems to utilize the tires to maximum advantage.

By embedding intelligent materials such as the ones used in the bodywork, the tires will be able to control their temperature and pressure, as well as change shape. This will allow reduced rolling resistance and induced drag in the straights (such as taking the shape of a motorbike tire), and increased contact patch area during the braking and cornering events.

Also, by having tires that adapt themselves to the circumstances and the environment, it will not be necessary to change them for weather conditions nor for wear — they will last for the whole race.

Energy recovery systems

The car would do away with energy-wasteful brakes, replacing them with systems to harvest braking energy and store it in flywheels and/or super-capacitors to be used for power peaks events during the races.

Electronics and control systems will be advanced to such an extent that the driver will evolve to be more of a “vehicle operator.”

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