This all came about through a collaboration between our team and Japan’s RDS Corporation that dates back to 2019. RDS is a design tech company that introduces new forms of design and manufacturing under the concept of “making today’s ideas the normal of the future”. Rapid prototyping is what RDS excels at and it has been involved in the development of several products in the fields of motorsport, medicine, welfare, and cutting-edge robotics. 



The project for their latest racing machine, the RDS WF01TR AT01 began back in 2017, working with the vastly experienced Ito. Producing one of these wheelchairs is highly complex and like the design of a Formula 1 car, it relies on analysing vast amounts of data. Generally speaking, able-bodied athletes are faster up to the 400 metre mark, but in longer races, parasport competitors have the upper hand, around 5 minutes quicker over 10,000 metres and a staggering 30 minutes quicker in a marathon.  

A racing wheelchair uses composite materials for strength and light weight just like our Formula 1 car, while the seat itself is the most important component, as it has to be rigid while ensuring the athlete is comfortable and can make maximum use of their arm power. The steering components are hidden in the main spine of the frame and the wheels are ultra lightweight and extremely rigid. Sporting a striking livery that evokes that of our current F1 car, the similarities in the concepts and aims of the two vehicles is obvious, even if the Power Unit in the RDS machine comes in human form!  



Naturally, we would be delighted to see this collaboration between Scuderia AlphaTauri and RDS lead to success, but our Tokyo-based partner is looking at the bigger picture, hoping that lessons learned from this extreme high-tech racing machine can have real-world applications to assist people with disabilities.  


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