The Aston Martin Valkyrie is the most extreme road car ever to wear number plates. Whilst much of the advanced technology we see has roots in Formula 1 and general racing, making it fit for road use is a very different challenge. A road car needs to operate in extreme weather conditions, it needs to meet strict road car homologation regulations and it needs to operate day in day out without a full maintenance check after every outing (unlike a race car).
In this series, we are going to explore a few of the details that show how special the Valkyrie is as a road car and the sheer lengths that Aston Martin and Red Bull have gone to in ensuring it’s purity and focus is preserved.
Not to most obvious place to start with such an extreme car but we will begin with the windscreen wiper. To most people a windscreen wiper is a device of purest necessity; it is there to wipe the screen and maintain visibility. What few realise is that engineering a wiper system for any car is an extremely complex process due to the demand put on the system under differing conditions. It has therefore dictated the essential shape of a windscreen all the way through the years. The blades rely on a straight-forward, flat surface to cover and without this simple surface, they would simply part company with the screen.
It is different in racing, cars like LMP1 prototypes have wiper blades fitted to screens with far more extreme curvatures than you’d ever find on a road car. The reason this can be done is that racing cars do not have to be homologated for sale around the world to members of the general public. The moment homologation is required, things become far more complex.
This proved to be a huge roadblock for the Valkyrie project. When Aston Martin first consulted with a major European supplier on the subject, they said that a wiper for a screen like this could not be done. The issue was that the wiper would effectively have to go around a corner if it was to meet the +/-35 degrees of sweep required from its vertical parked position to enable it to be homologated.
It took a huge amount of searching but finally a small US company called FlexSys begged to differ. With a combination of huge brainstorming sessions, extensive trialling and Finite Element Analysis has resulted in the world’s most sophisticated windscreen wiper. It has already grabbed the attention of major global car companies.
It became apparent that the only way to make it work was to have a wiper with a blade that actually twisted as the wiper arm moved around the screen. After trials for many different solutions, the final version was to use a passive system, run off the existing wiper motor that transferred power along a torque tube hidden inside the actual frame of the blade. Once it had been designed in FEA.For the assurance of quality, before it went near an actual car, the wiper and windscreen assembly was fitted to a rig and durability tested for hundreds of thousands of cycles.
Another first for Valkyrie is that it is the only carbon fibre wiper blade offered as standard on all versions of the car from a car manufacturer. In design, a weight limit for the system had been set at 4.5kg to include the motor, arm, blade and torque tube. Through a single minded approach to weight management, engineers have got that weight down to just 2.1kg, of which just 594g is the weight of the arm complete with torque tube.
Continuing on the theme of weight, the Valkyrie comes with a washer bottle containing one litre of liquid. Why one litre? It is the minimum allowed by law, but the maximum allowed by the packaging requirement of the car. As a result it was critical that as little fluid as possible was lost on areas of the screen that would not be cleared, requiring extensive simulation work.
The lengths gone to create this totally bespoke windscreen wiper is a small example of the extreme engineering that has been harnessed to bring the Aston Martin Valkyrie to production. It is an indicator of the whole tone of the project – the relentless pursuit of perfection.