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It is pretty standard for car chases in movies to end with one (or a number) of vehicles being launched into the air and rolling multiple times before crashing. If the Bourne and Bond movies aren’t enough to jog your memory, the latest iteration of Fast and the Furious has a custom built car designed to achieve just that effect – complete with a ramp built into the front to help ‘flip’ cars!
However, such flips are not limited to the movie screens – they are a prime concern for car designers and engineers. Cars travelling at high speeds and having a high centre of gravity, such as SUVs and trucks, are prone to flipping over. Other cars, such as high-end sports or race cars are meant to bend around corners at high speeds and are deliberately designed to have a low centre of gravity. Even so, they require additional safeguards to minimise the risk of rolling over.The most well known is the anti-roll cage found in rally and stock racing cars. The anti-roll cage is a stiff structure placed inside the cabin to prevent the roof of the car collapsing on the driver if the car flips over (as it often does).
It is attributed with having saved countless lives in motor sports over the last few decades. A similar feature in regular road cars is called the anti-roll bar. A stiff cylindrical bar that connects to the car body, it essentially works by absorbing the forces on a car that can cause it to flip over. It has become an integral part of modern suspension systems.
As cars continue to evolve technologically, advances such as active computer sensor controlled suspension systems are entering the scene. These work by using sensors to ‘anticipate’ the speed and manner in which a corner is being approached and adjusting the stiffness of the suspension system accordingly. So while cars in the movies might be flipping furiously, rest assured, the engineers in the real world are committed to providing a safe and smooth driving experience.
– Adeel Jawaid
First published in The Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on June 2, 2013.