Back in 2015, Formula 1 introduced the halo, a crash protection system that places a curved bar around the driver’s head to better prevent injuries from incidents like flying debris and rollovers. Ferrari is now seemingly planning to bring this concept to its road cars—if a newly filed patent is anything to go by. To do that, the Italian automaker is planning to run a strut right down the center of the windshield and then make it invisible to the driver’s eye with some electronic trickery. The result will be a sturdier cockpit that can be fitted with narrower side uprights.
The picture you see above isn’t real. We made it up to show what Ferrari’s latest patent might look like in real life, because the idea of a split windshield may end up being seen on our roads in the near future. The patent, which was filed toward the end of December 2019, proposes two different ways this halo-style cockpit setup might work. The first solution sees a central upright run down the center of the windshield on the outside or the inside, whereby it seemingly doesn’t touch the glass and the actual windshield remains as one big piece covering the whole distance between the two side pillars. The second proposed approach integrates this center strut into the windshield and physically divides it into a right portion and a left portion.
This kind of center upright connecting the lower and upper crossbeams might be a great way to add stiffness and more safety to the cockpit, but it doesn’t exactly do much for the driver’s field of view. To solve this problem, Ferrari is planning to make this halo strut invisible with the help of one or more cameras connected to the upright and aligned with the driver’s line of sight. The upright itself will have a display superimposed on it on the inside, and the cameras will feed their footage to this display in real time, canceling out the driver’s perception of this big chunky bar in his field of vision. Ferrari also proposes to use this kind of tech on the A-pillars and even on the rear pillars, as well as the rear window, thus giving the driver unobstructed all-around vision (while everything still looks normal from the outside).
The filing also lays out how the company might use this system to aid with cabin air-conditioning, and even explains that aligning the windshield wipers with the center strut while at rest would significantly improve the aerodynamics of the car. For now, this patent is just an idea, but seeing how quickly technology is moving these days, we really wouldn’t be surprised to see this on a Ferrari road car very soon.