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Avatar | Driver Seat | Williams Racing


Williams Racing F1 Team has partnered with university experts to develop the first-known driver seat ‘avatar’ using pioneering biomechanics technology.

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A pilot project has successfully revolutionised how Formula 1 racing seats can be designed using biomechanics technology to improve a driver’s comfort and performance.

Williams Racing engineers have partnered with experts from the University of Portsmouth on a study to develop a more detailed understanding of how a driver physically fits in a car. The goal was to help race seat builders and improve fit ergonomics.

Currently, the most common industry approach for producing a custom race seat relies on a labour-intensive, highly subjective process that has yet to develop over the past two decades. It often means that the seat has to be adjusted more than once until the driver is happy because it is hard to see where they are sitting, and there isn’t much time.

Researchers from the University’s School of Sport, Health and Exercise Science have introduced scientific methods and created a digital ‘avatar’ of Williams driver Nicholas Latifi to simulate his seated position. They built a musculoskeletal model using 3D scanning in computer-aided design (CAD) software.

Dr Emma Neupert, Senior Lecturer in Physiology at the University of Portsmouth, said: “We began this project because we believed we could improve the current methods for a seat fitting, improve a driver’s comfort, and look at the health and safety side of things.

“We are happy with the results of the pilot, which have shown that a digital seat fit process can be done from start to finish using this new, innovative method.”

Latifi added: “For me, the fit and comfort in the driver’s seat are probably one of the most important things. If you’re moving around in the seat too much or you’re simply uncomfortable, it will affect how you drive and give feedback to the team.”

The digital driver fit allows the team to see the ‘real’ driver in CAD via a customised model. It has the potential to minimise the need for repeated seat fittings, lower the cost to the team, and reduce the forces on the musculoskeletal system of the driver.

Philippa Morris, Senior Design Engineer at Williams Racing, said: “If our driver isn’t comfortable in the cockpit, it can understandably impact their overall performance. Sometimes we will go through multiple race events before…

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