Delphi develops new safety devices for IRL

US company Delphi in Troy, MI, has developed an innovative system for measuring and communicating the impact of a crash to track rescue workers. A red light on the outside of the racecar, controlled by Delphi's accident data recorder (ADR2), illuminates when an impact reaches or exceeds a pre-set G-force threshold, telling the medical team that injury is more likely. The light and Delphi's new earpiece sensor system must be fitted to all Indy Racing League racecars in 2003

Delphi develops new safety devices for IRL

The company has developed these new systems in collaboration with IRL medical director Dr Henry Bock, who said of the warning light: "Based on years of research with accident data, we already know that, if a driver experiences a certain amount of force, the likelihood of injury, such as head trauma, increases significantly. Knowing that a crash has exceeded a certain threshold, safety workers on the scene will adjust their mindset - anticipating that injury has occurred and tailoring their assessment and extrication plans to properly support the driver."

Delphi is the 'official electronics provider' to the IRL and has been involved in open-wheel racing since 1988. The IRL's IndyCar Series and Infiniti Pro Series racecars are already equipped with several of the company's products including the ADR2, which senses and records key vehicle parameters at 1000 samples per second just prior to, during, and after an accident-triggering event. Delphi's track condition radio alerts drivers by transmitting messages from race control to the racecar via a dash-mounted display. A bespoke radio telemetry module transmits engine and chassis data from the car to the engineers in the pits. Delphi also supplies the IRL with its 'Multec' bottom-feed methanol electronic fuel-injector and various electrical connectors, cables and terminals.

Last season Delphi, which also sponsors the Kelley Racing team in the IndyCar series, used the association to test its Delphi earpiece sensor system ('DESS'), which gathers data on the forces on the driver's head in the event of a crash. 'DESS' uses small sensors integrated into the left and right radio earpieces worn by the driver. The six accelerometers (one for each of the three axes on each side) measure acceleration in the X, Y and Z axes during an accident.

The earpiece sensor system and the ADR2 provide motorsport accident researchers with data for a clearer picture of what happens during a crash. This year, 'DESS' is also mandatory equipment in both the IndyCar and Infiniti IRL divisions.

The new Delphi systems will be used for the first time on all the cars in this weekend's Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the first IndyCar Series race of the new season.

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