Alpinestars is once again leading the way in developing rider safety. Having pioneered countless innovations in boots, suits and gloves, notably the development of external protection on road race boots in the early 80’s and more recently employing the philosophy on its leather suits, they are now introducing a new dimension into race suit technology – a fully autonomous, multiple field data acquisition system.
The Advanced Safety Technology suit (AST).
Fitting telemetry and acquiring data from race bikes and cars has been common practice for some years, however, acquiring data directly from the body of the rider/driver has not and Alpinestars is developing technology to allow technicians the ability to analyze the gravitational and impact forces, as well as the physiological effects experienced by a human when pushing the limits of a high performance race machine.
During the weekend of the German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring, MotoGP rider John Hopkins wore a leather suit equipped with the new A.S.T. system. Although indistinguishable from his usual race suit, John’s body was constantly monitored by a series of accelerometers, impact and physiological sensors.
The impact sensors are mounted on both external and internal surfaces of the suits protectors to measure the loads sustained and absorbed in a fall, without impeding or endangering the rider in any way. The sensors record the maximum impact value subjected to the rider, providing real situation data, above and beyond the test simulations currently conducted in the Alpinestars laboratory.
The custom data processor and solid-state memory, encased in an impact resistant structure and hidden in the back hump on John’s suit, acquire data throughout each session which can be downloaded immediately into a laptop plugged into a connector on the suit. The information can then be studied to analyze pressure point values, lateral G loads experienced, the rider’s pulse and the suit’s cooling performance.
The benefit of developing such technology is the tremendous amount of information that can be gathered about the stresses borne by a rider and the performance of safety equipment during a race and in the event of a fall. Alpinestars’ goal is to develop the technology to measure all the dimensional forces at work upon a rider and to allow greater understanding of material performance thereby improving safety both on the racetrack and ultimately on the road.