Williams Formula One technology creates 'Babypod' carrier

Williams Advanced Engineering

Williams has used its Formula One technology to come up with a hi-tech carrier for critically ill new-born babies needing emergency transportation.

The dubbed "Babypod 20" is being built by Williams Advanced Engineering -- a sister business of the F1 team and part of the Williams Group -- to provide a safe environment for new-born infants that require transporting to hospital either by car, ambulance or helicopter. The firm has been working on the new design alongside Advanced Healthcare Technology (AHT), a company which has produced transport systems for babies for several years.

Constructed using materials and techniques used to build Williams' F1 cars, the sleek carbon fibre transport device will be able to withstand a 20 G-force crash, while offering a more cost-effective and lightweight option -- weighing just 9.1kg (20lb) -- as oppose to heavier, cumbersome incubator alternatives used in the past.

Williams Advanced Engineering managing director, Craig Wilson, said: "The parallels between a Formula One car and transport device for babies may not be immediately apparent, but both demand a lightweight and strong structure that keeps the occupant safe in the event of an accident, and can monitor vital signs whilst remaining easily transportable and accessible.

"We have taken the existing Babypod product and worked with AHT to create a device that is not only more compact and user-friendly but, crucially, can be scaled up in its production so that more hospitals can benefit from this Formula One-inspired technology."

Mark Lait, the design director of Advanced Healthcare Technology, added: "As a UK company we are particularly pleased to have the opportunity to work with the designers and engineers at Williams, to develop this 'next generation' of BabyPods, and to harness their knowledge and skills to make this new model available.

"This design, with reduced weight and increased strength, has also delivered improved features of protection against vibration and noise and of course the dangers related to impact, which inevitably sometimes occur with medical vehicles traveling at speed."

The manufacturing process will take place at Williams' Grove-based headquarters alongside its F1 operations. The pod, which costs £5,000 per unit, will be used by the Children's Acute Transport Service (CATS) of Great Ormond Street Hospital in London initially, though plans are in place to market it much more widely.

CATS operational manager, Eithne Polke, says greater flexibility and manoeuvrability in the new design will make a significant difference to her team's transportation process.

"The new Babypod has an adapted design that allows for greater flexibility and manoeuvrability when moving critically ill infants from one mode of transport to another," Polke explained. Not only is the environment controlled at a constant temperature, but the visual opportunity afforded by the redesigned cover allows the baby to be constantly monitored and for better accessibility.

"Overall, we're delighted with the updated Babypod design and safety features and believe it has made a big difference to our transportation processes."