Volvo CE customized wheeled excavator increases electric motorsports safety
The patent-pending tool co-developed by Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) and Granfors Racing has been adopted by the FIA and was devised as part of motorsport's electric transformation.
The new racecar recovery tool is a solution in the world of motorsport and Volvo says that it is the first of its kind to be introduced to the tracks since the FIA began the electric transformation of its World RX race series. Thanks to the use of the racecar recovery tool, the now 100 percent electric rallycross cars are recovered from the racetracks without any manual intervention – meaning no personnel have to walk onto the tracks and physically strap or hook the car to a recovery vehicle as would previously occur – making it not only safer to intervene, but also more efficient and speedier.
Volvo CE co-designed the solution in its role as the official Construction Equipment Supplier and Track Building Partner for the World RX race series, together with Swedish start-up Granfors Racing. After being trialled at the race weekend in Riga, Latvia, in September, it has now been adopted by the FIA as the most efficient recovery solution for the race series. Viewers will be able to see it in action during the upcoming race weekend (October 8 to 9) in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium.
"With the speedy introduction of this innovative solution, we are living up to our commitment to push both our industry and motorsport forward when it comes to safety and sustainability," says Arvid Rinaldo, brand communication and partnerships for Volvo CE. "Thanks to this strong partnership with the FIA and Engcon, we are able to accelerate a shift towards electrification that is reliable, efficient and most vitally safe."
With the advent of electric rallycross racing come entirely new safety considerations given that the rallycross cars can accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in less than two seconds – quicker than a Formula 1 car – combined with the inevitable care that needs to be factored in when handling electrically charged vehicles.
"Electric racing is a new technology which brings new challenges around safety – we need to adapt to that and create new tools," says Benoît Dupont, off-road category manager for the FIA. "Volvo CE has been really proactive in helping us, creating a tool that allows us to remove the car in a safe and efficient way. And this is really what we were looking for – to add electric safety on top of efficiency."
Because safety is not something to be taken lightly, the FIA has introduced a smart traffic light system as part of its new electromobility safety protocols. Whenever an electric rallycross car comes off the racetrack, a green light on top of the car indicates the safety status of the car. If it turns red, it indicates to those nearby that it is not safe to touch the car and to await official recovery of the vehicle.
To keep in line with this system and to allow the safe recovery of electric rallycross cars that have ‘turned red', Volvo CE and Granfors Racing came up with their own three-fold safety system. Once drivers have been safely recovered from the car by trained officials, the car is then carefully picked up by a flat insulated rescue plate, which is controlled, lifted, lowered, and angled as necessary with a 360-degree Engcon tiltrotator attached to a Volvo EWR150E wheeled excavator. The combination of these three tools together helps ensures the safe handling of battery-powered vehicles. The EWR150 wheeled excavator, run on biofuels, offers a tight, compact swing essential for the maneuvers required during this process and the reliable handling needed to quickly and safely deliver the crashed racecar to the designated recovery area.
Developed in collaboration with Engcon, which provided the tiltrotator attachment, and tested under thorough safety requirements set by the FIA, the result is a collaborative innovation to help increase motorsport safety.
"While we always strive to win and every race is an adrenalin ride from start to finish, we know that our safety is always front of mind at World RX, particularly as we navigate this new era for electric racing," says Klara Andersson, one of the drivers for the Construction Equipment Dealer Team. "With this new robust set-up, we can be confident that our safety is in good hands – and that any interruptions to the race are kept to the absolute minimum."