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April 14, 2013
News - Project interview: Mechan…
about 4 years ago
Thanks for the comment! The primary reason for not mounting Mechanek on the racing seat itself is that drivers need to be able to get out of the car quickly in the case of a crash. Like the HANS device, to exit the vehicle the driver needs only to remove the harness with Mechanek. If Mechanek were mounted to the seat, the driver would likely also need to remove the straps from the helmet, which would add time. This is something that many of the drivers we spoke to early on in the project were strongly against.
Hi! Thanks for checking out our project. You're right that Mechanek is mechanically inspired by seatbelt pre-tensioners. The idea of putting pyrotechnics that close to a driver's head though, was even more objectionable when we were completing some early surveys with drivers. In addition, the neck is a lot more fragile than the upper torso, and using motors gives us a lot more control over force applied to the head and neck.
With respect to the weight of the device, we agree that it's not practical in its current form. Just like a HANS device though, none of the weight is supported by the driver's neck - the weight is transmitted to the driver's shoulders and torso through the brace, and held in place by the harness. When the driver is strapped in to a race seat, there is no perceptible distance in weight when compared to a HANS device. In fact, Mechanek is more comfortable as there's no "hard stop" when the driver moves his/her head left and right. The primary concern with weight currently is that it is a significant addition high above the center of mass. In open wheel racing this is very frowned upon, in something like rally racing it's less of an issue. In future prototypes we're focusing on decreasing weight and re-packaging to make the overall device much smaller. This was just a first prototype, and we wanted to make sure it would survive crash testing!
Thanks for the comments. All feedback is appreciated.
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