Project Invincible: McLaren's Custom-Made, Sci-Fi Body Armour

OK, let's not get ahead of ourselves. McLaren won't be deploying an interplanetary squad of space marines to slay brain-guzzling bugs anytime soon. It does, however, have an interest in protecting its valued clients and when one of them asked the company to make some custom armour to protect their body post-surgery, it turns out McLaren was not only happy to entertain the idea, but actually do it.

Developed by McLaren Applied Technologies for a "client X", the armour is designed to "help protect vital organs after surgery":

The fully wearable composite shield does the job of the rib cage -- protecting vital organs including the heart and the lungs, with the garment providing further protection from unexpected low energy impact.

According to McLaren, it's designed to conform precisely to the client's physique and is manufactured from a combination of materials, including carbon, Zylon and Dyneema fibres, as well as "highly-toughened resin".

Image: McLaren (via YouTube)

A "unique gel" provides additional cushioning, to "attenuate the load and protect weak ribs and the vital organs".

Going from the information provide by McLaren, it's clear the armour won't be mass-produced. Heck, it might only make one piece. Still, it's rather cool the company has the facilities and know-how to craft such a specialised item. I cannot fathom how much it cost "client X" though.

[McLaren, via Uncrate]

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    That's actually a pretty clever idea. A friend of mine's Dad recently had open heart surgery and has months of rehab where he needs to be super careful. Having something like this may not speed up the recover but it may make it safer. Of course, it'd need to be more affordable, not everyone can bankroll Mclaren to make one.

    I'm thinking science fiction here, but they mention non-Newtonian gel pads. So why not make a complete body armour made of non-Newtonian gel pads?

    Clearly in its liquid form its like water, only thicker, but upon impact it becomes rigid. You would think this type of body armour would be cheaper and better to mass produce. It could be used in police and rehabilitation also. My girlfriend has recently undergone surgery for knee reconstruction, and soon having surgery on her other foot. Something like non-Newtonian could be used to ease the impact on joints from moving.

    As I said though, thinking about this from a science fiction point of view though lol

      The trick would be to make it rigid at a point that doesn't impact their daily lives. The thicker fluid angle wouldn't be an issue, if anything it might help recovery with a mild resistance effect, but it doesn't take much force to turn many NNF's solid, at least in the range you'd need here.

      And its that point that makes it tricky. And conversion point would need to be low enough to catch the impacts we're talking about, but high enough that merely running or jogging wouldn't trigger it. Solvable issues though.

      There might be military uses though, and that would be one simple avenue to commercialising the idea. Sports uses as well - those gel packs in helmets could reduce concussions for example.

      There would be issues to be solved getting this sort of thing commercialised, but I don't think its as sci fi as you think :)

        Well, if it can be militarised first, then years later it’ll be available for commercial sale. Easily could be used as a body armour and protection.

          Definitely, that's what I was getting at. People hate wars and the like, but most major breakthroughs happen as a result of conflict, so in some ways its a necessary evil. For this sort of thing, the funding they get would make it a trivial exercise to see if it had military benefits.

          If not (or when its been neutralised), it gets into public domain relatively quickly. Kevlar vests are a good example, you can pick one up in just about any gun shop these days, and they were frontline gear not all that long ago.

          There was an episode of Mythbusters, where they did a bunch of walking on water things. They ended up doing a massive container of cornstarch and water, and casually (sort of) walked across it.

          Theres a part of me now that wishes they'd shot a few bullets at it to see how effective it was at absorbing the impact.

            I remember that episode of mythbusters. So many different things to be done with NNL. I’ve had to make some with my nephew lately. We put it in balloons and used it as a stress ball and even placed it in a dish and punched down on the liquid as hard as possible and completely stops the impact in place.

            Kind of wondering if I fill up a latex glove with NNL and use it to punch bricks, would the liquid turning solid reduce the impact on my fiat also in the same glove?

            War is bad, but you’re right. It leads to so many technological advancements.

      So the idea is that NNLs absorb more shock because phase-change requires energy?
      Sounds good but I imagine that the response-time of the NNL would be really important.

      Anyone seen any documented testing of the idea?

    Very, very basic stuff. This is just like their F1 work: an advertising and public relations exercise.

    Last edited 25/09/17 1:41 pm

      Yeah but it the point is they didn't have to do it - they chose to do it.

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