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Spotlight: Williams Technology Centre in QSTP

wtcq-lobby1-e1326609924547Williams Technology Centre Qatar (WTCQ) is a small but ambitious start up in Qatar Science and Technology Park. In the world of F1 the creation of technology is as fast as the cars themselves and WTQ are busy adapting motorsport technology. Marhaba caught up with Damien Scott, the General Manager of WTCQ, who explained that Williams F1 sometimes have to drop entire projects because their competitors have done something new and they need to catch up. So The WTCQ was created because they thought it would be a good idea to “have a mechanism to catch some of those interesting innovations and turn them into viable products or services.”

Williams Tech is focusing on two things; Flywheel technology and Formula 1 simulators.

The Flywheel is a mechanism for storing electricity, much like a mechanical battery. It was originally created for making F1 cars hybrid and is being developed to address transit to reduce electricity consumption, cut infrastructure costs, increase reliability and regenerative braking. “I want to see the flywheel technology applied to Qatar’s headline info structure project,” said Damien Scott, referring to the Doha Metro Project.

wtcq-advanced-simulator-side1Their second focus is the very futuristic looking simulators. Scott insists that F1 simulator technology is “much more than a glorified playstation” and compares the experience to that of an IMAX cinema. Being surrounded is an important aspect for simulators. Williams Tech has a Memorandum of Understanding with Mowasalat, which operate Karwa taxis and are planning to apply simulator technology into their business as a training tool. Drivers will practice on simulator technology to provided a more efficient, safer and better passenger experience.

However, all this technology transferring is not without problems. Its expensive and because it was designed with motorsport in mind, as nothing has to last longer than 2-3 races, it has a short lifespan. So what they’re doing at WTCQ is increasing lifespan and reducing cost. They have to take an existing F1 simulator and customize it, while bringing down the cost to make it economically viable; no mean feat. WTCQ also provides F1 simulators for events, like the World Petroleum Congress and Qatar Tennis Open, so you can have a go on one.

damien-scott1Damien Scott’s job is to make sure that the technical teams doing the research development have everything they need and that Williams Tech engage with the right international and local companies. “We’re doing something completely new at WTCQ, we’re effecting change,” Scott said. So far, in their relatively short career (they’ve been operational for 18 months) they’ve designed and commissioned the F1 motorsport simulator, the most advanced in the Middle East. Both local and international drivers can come to train in Qatar, whereas previously this kind of technology was only available to F1 drivers, although Scott admits it’s still quite expensive.

2173Damon Hill (above) drove their F1 simulator at the end of last year, his first time in one and according to Scott, he found it quite scary. When he put on the brakes he didn’t feel the g force on his chest and his immediate reaction was that he was going to slam into the wall. “He let out a scream of terror,” recalled Scott, smiling. One the other hand, when Valtterri Bottas, a reserve driver for F1, had no such problem because he is from the playstation generation. He spent a week in Doha trying out the simulator and was so impressed with it that he would like to see more cars added.

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