McLaren has gone all out with the ideas behind their new Formula One concept car, the MP4-X. The company are looking into their crystal ball to see what the racing car of tomorrow might be like, both in design and the technologies it uses.
"We wanted to peer into the future and imagine the art of the possible,” said John Allert, group brand director of McLaren Technology Group.
It's a future where reliance on fossil fuels is a distant memory, because not only will the car run on electrical power and have solar cells to help run the onboard computing, but McLaren also believe race tracks will have "inductive coupling" built into them to aide in recharging the car.
For safety they envision the car having a (potentially controversial) hydrophobic high-impact canopy to shield the driver, tyres would have sensors for real-time monitoring of wear and tear, and hands won't be the only way to control a vehicle. The company propose gesture and brain-synaptic control, which would involve monitoring electrical signals in the driver's brain to control the vehicle's systems. The company already have research in this area with work McLaren Applied Technologies is doing with GSK on neurological diseases like ALS.
They also say a vehicle with no physical controls at all is a possibility. The tech isn't there yet but such a vehicle could be based entirely on visual gesture control systems or holographic instrument panels.
Other features include electrodes fitted to the car's wings to control downforce for cornering, turning the air around the wings into plasma, green screen virtual ads, energy absorption technology on the chassis for crashes, augmented unrestricted 360 vision for drivers, with the car fitted with cameras with footage fed back to the driver's helmet much like fighter jets, and smart fabrics for the driver's overalls with biosensors and energy-harvesting potential.
If it all sounds a bit far out, the ideas are all based on technology that is already in development or being used in an R&D capacity at the moment.
You can find out more at the McLaren website and check out some concept art of the car below.