From Hypercars to Racing Boats to Skateparks in the Sky | Red Bull Advanced Technologies Does It All | Part 2

By Jamie Tyler and Ed Bernardon

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We’re pleased to bring part two of our first entry into the 2024 Future Car Podcast. We sat down with Rob Gray of Red Bull Advanced Technologies. Rob has an extensive engineering background, leading him to become Technical Director at one of the most successful Formula One teams in the past 20 years. Be sure to check out the first episode if you missed it. Let’s take a look at the second part of the interview with Rob. 👇

What to expect from this episode

Building the worlds first flying skate park 🛹

Inspired by Robs passion for biking, see how his partnership with Chris Kyle inspired the world’s first flying skatepark; a 1.7 ton BMX bowl that is suspended in the air using Europe’s largest hot air balloon. You’ll get to learn about the key challenges it took to create a bespoke course, including reducing the weight by using carbon instead of plywood.

The role Formula One plays moving toward carbon neutrality ♻️

We’ll explore how Formula One’s drive to become carbon neutral goes beyond the creation of the new generation of cars. Sure, the 2026 regulations will help set the foundation for the car, as well as pave the way for new greener technologies. But what about shipping? Logistics? New facility development? Fuel development? Efficiency gains across the whole development cycle are possible.

Rob’s vision for the future of Formula One 🏎️

We cast our minds to 2050, and how Rob sees the world of Formula One, and motorsport in general evolving in the next 26 years. We discuss how Formula One may move toward a more electrical based motorsport category, and how electrical recovery from the front axle comes into play. What about the year 2100? It’s more a fanciful look at things, but maybe will move toward Star Wars style pod racing?

Rob Gray is the Technical Director at Red Bull Advanced Technologies (RBAT), the engineering sister business of Red Bull Racing. With over 20 years of experience working in both the design and technical sides of the business, Rob is here to tell us all about the exciting work RBAT is doing and give us some insight into the impact motorsports may have on our future cars.  

In this Part 2 Future Car episode, Rob talks to host Ed Bernardon about some other projects RBAT is involved in (listen in to Part 1 to hear Rob discuss the company’s first hypercar project), his experience working in F1, and, of course, sustainability within motorsports. 

Some Questions Asked

  • What are the key performance parameters, or the features, that make a good racing bike? (1:51)
  • We always hear about how an F1 car has so much downforce it could run upside down in a tunnel […] But what do you have to do to the car [and] to the tunnel? If someone’s interested in doing this, what do you think it’ll cost?(10:09)
  • If you were to fit a hydrogen combustion engine into a Formula One car now and were to take as much space as you could take for the fuel cell. How far could it go? (15:19)
  • What do you think motorsports is going to be like in the year 2050? (18:05)

In This Episode You Will Learn 

  • Some of the biggest things Rob learned about designing a bike (4:42)
  • Where the idea for the world’s first flying skate park, built in partnership with RBAT and BMX rider Kriss Kyle, came from (5:54)
  • About how the flying skate park was built (6:18)
  • How F1’s 2030 carbon-neutral target will impact the vehicles (13:20)

Connect with Rob Gray


Connect with Ed Bernardon:

[00:00] Ed Bernardon: Every guest I have on this show demonstrates how incredibly far we’ve come in terms of innovation and technology in the auto industry, where boundaries are being pushed that, years ago, would’ve seemed virtually impossible to do. As the world evolves at a rapid pace, so much technology. This is a sentiment that I believe today’s guest would wholeheartedly agree with.


[00:20] [Intro music]


[00:31] Ed Bernardon: Hello, and welcome to the second part of my interview with Rob Gray. If you listened to Part 1, you already know Rob is the Technical Director at Red Bull Advanced Technologies – the high performance engineering and sister company of Red Bull Racing. Red Bull Advanced Technologies works within a range of industries on projects that push the boundaries of technology and innovation. In Part 1 of this interview, Rob and I discussed his past professional experience in Formula One, RBAT’s first hypercar project, as well as the company’s recent work, designing an America’s Cup boat. In this Part 2 episode, we learn a little bit more about the other projects Rob has been involved with, like the BMC project to revolutionize bike design and building the world’s first flying skatepark. We also discuss the hot topic of sustainability within racing and how he thinks F1 will change as it moves to carbon neutrality. We finish off with his vision for the future of Formula One. I’m Ed Bernardon, and welcome to Part 2 with Rob Gray. 


[01:39] Ed Bernardon: You’re a cyclist, and you’ve now partnered with BMC to revolutionize bike design — Speed Machine and Teammachine R are the names of these bikes. What are the key performance parameters or features that make a good racing bike?


[01:56] Rob Gray: Talking really about the Teammachine R, the key things were really the weight, first of all, so getting it as light as possible; the aerodynamic drag; and then various stiffness and compliance targets to make it nice to ride. It’s not overly complicated, but it’s knowing where those different parameters need to sit. The aim of the Teammachine R was to end up with a bike that was both aerodynamically efficient and lightweight, so it could be a climbing bike.


[02:19] Ed Bernardon: Climbing back, like up the big hills that you would have in a Tour de France or something like that.


[02:23] Rob Gray: So, traditionally, manufacturers would have an aero-specific bike that was heavy for going on the flat for time trials and that kind of thing, and then they’d have a climbing bike that wasn’t very aerodynamic but was super lightweight for going up the hills. So, the aim of Teammachine R was to combine the best of both of those worlds. 


[02:38] Ed Bernardon: So, how did you do that? 


[02:40] Rob Gray: Well, we very much used the same processes that I keep talking about. We started off on the aerodynamic side, thinking about doing some sensitivity studies and understanding how changing different aspects of the bike influenced the drag. Once we got a baseline of shape that we thought was going to deliver, we then passed that over to the finite element analysis team within the structures team. They analyzed the bike to see what laminate we needed to put on the bike, then see what that weighs, and see whether we’re hitting the stiffness and compliance targets that we were aiming for. Then, you go back around the loop. So, if you can’t hit those targets, which is pretty unlikely the first time around, you’re then into, “What changes do we need to talk to the aero guys about to then come up with a slightly modified shape that’s more structurally acceptable?” And then, you redo the laminate, go back through the loop, and go around again.


[03:31] Ed Bernardon: So, if I were to take the original BMC bike and the improved, would I be able to see a difference? Or is it something I’d only be able to tell if I actually rode it?


[03:40] Rob Gray: I think the top tube shape is fairly distinctive. The fork legs on the front of the bike — there’s a decent gap between the fork legs, which is fairly unusual. There are a few key differences that you can pick up.


[03:51] Ed Bernardon: Oh, the fork legs are wider apart, you said. Did that surprise you that that was better?


[03:55] Rob Gray: Yeah, initially.


[03:56] Ed Bernardon: Now, one would think if you make the cross-section, the view from the front, wider, that would be bad for aerodynamics.


[04:03] Rob Gray: It’s all about what happens to the flow behind the fork legs, though. So, it’s thinking about where the air goes when it’s coming off the fork legs, rather than worrying about the actual influence within themselves.


[04:13] Ed Bernardon: I believe that you’ve integrated the water bottle into the frame. A part of the frame is a water bottle.

[04:19] Rob Gray: It’s not a structural part of the frame. But it’s designed to be part of the bike; it’s sort of fairly fitted in.


[04:25] Ed Bernardon: Stefan Christ — he was the head of R&D for BMC. He described the collaboration as a two-way technology exchange. What were the biggest things you learned from designing a bike that you said, “Wow, I never would have thought that”?


[04:43] Rob Gray: Two things bring to mind really. First of all, regulations. Because the UCI, the cycling authority, has a lot of regulations that you have to comply to, and we had to make sure the bike was legal to use in the Tour de France and other races. Coupled with that is the ISO test standards. You have to make sure the bike’s safe to sell. The other aspect, which some of the team learned about, wasn’t so much for me, but some of the guys really had to learn about the practicalities of cycling and simple things like where the water bottle goes and how easy access is. It was a bit of a learning curve–


[05:12] Ed Bernardon: Now imagine if you make a big bulky water bottle, it’s not gonna be good for aerodynamics. Now, sometimes you get some really crazy projects. So I want to talk to you about one of those, which is the world’s first flying skate park. It’s a 1.7-ton BMX bowl that you lifted up with one of the world’s largest balloons, and this was done in partnership with Chris Kyle, a BMX rider. He said he wanted to conquer his fear of heights. So he’s not afraid of a BMX bike when he’s riding that around. So why not put it 2000 feet up in the air? That’ll cure my fears. Where did the idea for this come from? Did it come from him? 


[05:54] Rob Gray: It came from Chris. He was walking his dogs in the woods during COVID lockdown and daydreaming. And he just had this idea, like, “Why wouldn’t it be great if I could be up there doing my tricks?” They came to us and told us what they wanted to do, and we were like, “Of course, you do. Why wouldn’t you?” And then we got stuck in.


[06:11] Ed Bernardon: So, tell us a little bit about this. The balloon is one of the world’s largest balloons ever. How do you get a skatepark?


[06:18] Rob Gray: So, the balloon was the biggest balloon in Europe, I think, specially made for that application.


[06:23] Ed Bernardon: Is that a helium balloon?


[06:26] Rob Gray: Hot air balloon. And then the skate bowl itself. So the challenge was that they built a plywood mock-up of the bowl that they wanted to use because it’s very shaped and tailored to him.


[06:36] Ed Bernardon: Because that’s to fit in the carriage underneath. 


[06:38] Rob Gray: No, tailored so that he can do different tricks and different jumps on it. It’s not a simple shape. It’s got quite a few different parts to it. So they built this plywood mock-up, and I think it came in 10 or 12 tons, and the balloon had a limit of three tonnes to be able to actually take off. So they came to us and said, “Look, this is what we want to do. Can you make us a bowl that the balloon is going to lift?” We designed it in carbon. And we did the stress analysis to make sure it was strong enough. Then the other challenge was the landing was quite a worry because, obviously, the bowl was going to touch down before the balloon. 


[07:10] Ed Bernardon: So, it touches down; you’re afraid that the balloon would keep going or something?


[07:13] Rob Gray: Well, I was just more afraid that normally, the guy flying the balloon is in the basket. He can see where the ground is, but he’s got this thing dangling beneath him about 30 feet. So, that’s going to touch down first, and then the basket’s going to follow. And just trying to make sure that you still got a bowl after you’ve landed. 


[07:29] Ed Bernardon: Because you have a balloon, a basket, and then you have the BMX skate park.


[07:33] Rob Gray: One of the other things that really drove the design was the need that they wanted to be able to land in any farmer’s field. But this bowl is quite big. So we ended up having to make the bowl in, I think, 21 sections, all of which are then bolted together so that when they landed in some field, they could take the bowl apart and still get out the six-foot-wide gate.


[07:51] Ed Bernardon: Well, those are the interesting design constraints because that makes it challenging; not only does it have to be lightweight, but you have to be able to disassemble it and assemble it quickly. When you’re working with a guy like Chris Kyle, are you ever in a situation where “Oh, here comes somebody with this crazy idea”? Now you have to figure out: Is this really too crazy to ever do? Or maybe we could do that? How do you balance that when you’re having these projects? Do you ever turn anyone away?


[08:21] Rob Gray: No, I never turn anyone away initially, at least. We do get some fairly out-there requests. But it’s really the engineer’s job to think of, “Well, how do we do this and make it have an acceptable level of risk and make it safe for the guys doing it?” On the balloon side, Chris wore a parachute. So, he had that ultimate safety net. But I mean, still, I think if you watch the video of what he actually did up there, it was absolutely–


[08:44] Ed Bernardon: Well, he was lifting above. He’s doing flips and turns.


[08:47] Rob Gray: So, we rarely turn an idea away. Occasionally, we’ll be asked to look at things where there’s an idea, and you’ll look at it, and you’ll say, “Well, we’ll assess the feasibility of it.” And you’ll come back and say, “Well, actually, we’ve looked at it, and we don’t think it’s doable,” but it tends to be more from the kind of the physics of the problem rather than the safety side, that something might not be feasible.


[09:05] Ed Bernardon: Interesting. Did it cure his fear of heights?


[09:08] Rob Gray: I’m not sure. 


[09:10] Ed Bernardon: I mean, that was the goal, right? 


[09:12] Rob Gray: Yeah, he seemed pretty comfortable.


[09:14] Ed Bernardon: He was happy when he was up there. He sure looks happy in the video. That’s for sure. What if you could do anything that’s on the crazy side? Is there any project you have in your head that, “Man, I’d really love to find somebody out there who wants to sponsor this project”?


[09:28] Rob Gray: Well, the one that springs to mind that we didn’t do, which I would have loved to have been involved in, was Felix Baumgartner when he jumped from the edge of space from the balloon. That, for me, was one of the best things Red Bull has ever done. It was absolutely an inspirational project. But that’s been done.


[09:44] Ed Bernardon: He was in space, right? On the borderline?


[09:47] Rob Gray: On the edge. 


[09:49] Ed Bernardon: Jumped in a spacesuit. He actually did a parachute jump.


[09:53] Rob Gray: So, that was great. Personally, I suppose I look at things like transatlantic powerboat records. I wonder whether there’s something to do with new technology to fuel that. Something like that.


[10:04] Ed Bernardon: World’s Fastest Atlantic Crossing.


[10:06] Rob Gray: Something like that. That’d be pretty cool. Might be powered by hydrogen.


[10:09] Ed Bernardon: We always hear about how an F1 car has so much downforce it could run upside down in a tunnel. It’s never been done. But like you said, sometimes you look at the physics of a problem, and the physics of that problem says that it could be done. What would you have to do to the tunnel? I assume if the F1 car stays the same, maybe not, but what would you have to do to the car, to the tunnel? Roughly, if someone’s interested in doing this, what do you think it would cost?


[10:37] Rob Gray: We have looked at it in the past. I think the biggest worry with the car is, is the engine going to be happy running upside down? Because you really don’t want the engine to be cutting out when you’re upside down. So, in the past, we’ve thought about whether you go to an electric powertrain because we’ve never really wanted to be pushing people to put engines on dynos upside down. So, that’s a big job, then, to put an electric drivetrain in the F1 car. In terms of other changes to the car, well, it should all be feasible. It’s a case of running it through the simulation, seeing how the loads look in the suspension, and making sure you’re within all of the load limits. And then it’s the safety side of it: how high is the tunnel you want to run on? Because you’ve got to think that, well, the driver is up there upside down on the roof of the tunnel.


[11:21] Ed Bernardon: Parachute is not going to help you.


[11:22] Rob Gray: Parachute is not gonna help you. But we’ve talked about catch netting. We’ve talked about all sorts of safety schemes to help. And the tunnel itself; well, you want a pretty big tunnel. 


[11:32] Ed Bernardon: Big in terms of the length? 


[11:34] Rob Gray: Big diameter. It needs to be a long tunnel as well.


[11:37] Ed Bernardon: Why do you need a big diameter?


[11:39] Rob Gray: I think because the thing we’re not totally sure about is how the curved track surface will influence the aerodynamics.


[11:46] Ed Bernardon: Oh, you’re right. So, the bigger it is, the more it approaches a flat track. That’s right because one wheel would be on a curve this way. This is something you never see on a track because it’ll tend to be sloped, off-camber, or bank turn, but you never have a turn that’s like a hill where one wheel is doing this, and the other one’s doing the opposite.


[12:08] Rob Gray: But also, if you think about, even if it’s sat in the bottom of the tunnel, and the car’s in the dip, the diffuser’s further off the ground, and the front wing’s further off the ground than it would be on a normal track. So, how does that influence it?


[12:20] Ed Bernardon: You might have to make a Formula One car that’s curved.


[12:23] Rob Gray: But then, is that cheating? Because it’s supposed to be a Formula One car run on the roof the tunnel.


[12:29] Ed Bernardon: These are the challenges of trying to do something that has never been done.


[12:32] Rob Gray: And cost, I don’t know. I think when we talked about it before, it was sort of north of $5 million. It’s not a small project.


[12:38] Ed Bernardon: I could trade my RB17 in for this. Let’s talk a little bit here on our final questions about Formula One and how sustainability is impacting Formula One. There’s a push, of course, to be carbon-neutral by 2030. There are new rule changes coming in in 2026. That powertrain is almost 50/50 on the energy recovery and electrical power versus the internal combustion engine. But then in 2030, four years later, which is the year we’re going to try and be carbon neutral, Formula One is going to try and be carbon neutral. What do you think’s going to change in how they’re powered? I mean, there are so many possibilities here: hybrid, battery, hydrogen, in many different forms. What do you see? Where do you think it’s going?


[13:21] Rob Gray: I think the 2030 target is about more than just the car. It’s about the whole industry, whether that be the shipping of parts to the track, the car itself, the factories, there’s a whole lot of different aspects.


[13:32] Ed Bernardon: In fact, it’s less than 1%. I’ve seen studies that show that the actual cars on the track are less than 1% of the emissions.


[13:39] Rob Gray: Then, the 2026 rules, the other aspect of that is that they have fully sustainable fuel. So, either e-fuels or certain types of biofuel, I think, also qualify. The 2026 car is very good on the carbon neutrality front. I’m not sure that we’re going to see a wholesale change of engines or power systems for 2030 because that feels a bit soon. Then longer term, where will it go? It’s really difficult to say. The e-fuels are a neat solution for Formula One that allows you to have a car that still sounds like the current car sounds, still sounds good and has all the emotion whilst being carbon neutral. Other options at the moment don’t seem to really deliver the same bang for the buck. So, I think it’d be very difficult to do an all-battery-powered F1 car at the moment. 


[14:25] Ed Bernardon: Why is that? 


[14:26] Rob Gray: Just because of the amount of space you need to store the batteries. Similarly, with hydrogen, hydrogen looks like it’s got applications in transport in the future. But actually, packaging those hydrogen tanks into a Formula One car is going to look quite different from how a Formula One car currently looks. I think it’s going to depend on where the industry wants to go, where the mainstream automotive manufacturers want to go because that tends to drive where the racing follows.


[14:53] Ed Bernardon: You mentioned hydrogen because to use hydrogen in a combustion mode is really interesting. If you’re using it in a combustion mode, you get all that noise. In that sense, it doesn’t really change. It’s not like an electric race car, which has more of a wind sound or the “roar of the engine.” One of the problems with the combustion of hydrogen in a vehicle is the size of the fuel tank. If you were to fit a hydrogen combustion engine into a Formula One car now and were to take as much space as you could take for the fuel cell, how far would it go? How many laps could it run, do you think?


[15:31] Rob Gray: Into an existing car? 


[15:32] Ed Bernardon: Yeah, an existing car. You can’t change the shape.


[15:34] Rob Gray: The problem is the tanks have to be very regular shapes. You can have regular pressure vessels, either spherical or cylindrical.


[15:43] Ed Bernardon: It’s not like a fuel tank for liquid fuel.


[15:36] Rob Gray: The Formula One car fuel tank is a very irregular shape. I think you’d struggle to get a hydrogen tank in there that was going to do any more than maybe three or four laps.


[15:56] Ed Bernardon: If you look at some of the tanks that you have, even for hydrogen as a gas, they look like a typical tank. But as soon as you start making that pressure vessel irregular shape or sharp corners, those are the places where you get, as you say, a lot of stresses and things like that where the cracks can form. So, I guess it gets a little bit tricky there.


[16:17] Rob Gray: I’m going to think the tanks are such high pressure for hydrogen. We’re talking normally 700 bar, it’s not really an option to go away from anything that is a tank shape.


[16:25] Ed Bernardon: So, in the short term, then, e-fuels, which are carbon-neutral, you’re still emitting carbon while you’re running, but carbon-neutral because they’re created by extracting carbon from the air and combining it with hydrogen. That’s for 2026. So, I guess we’ll have to wait and see. It all comes down to the regulations like you just said. If one of the regulations becomes that the car cannot emit CO2 while racing, which is different than carbon-neutral, then who knows what will be there? So, like you said, it’s not just about the car, but there’s also the transport of the people, the equipment, all the things you need to run the paddock from entertainment to taking care of the drivers. That’s where a lot of the emissions are coming from in the movement of all that equipment. So, Formula One has been working on this now for a while, towards their goals for 2030. What has been learned? Has anything been learned in the years that have passed by already, that you think can help in the commercial world in making things more sustainable?


[17:24] Rob Gray: One of the big things Formula One did was switching to their remote broadcast, where they do a lot of the work on the TV production back in the UK, rather than shipping all the people around the world. But I think you’d have to attribute some of that to COVID rather than any particular sport that’s driven it because it was COVID that pushed us to be a bit more efficient with how many people were sent around the world and got us also into the world of Zoom and other video conferencing. In terms of other lessons learned, a lot of it is just about being fairly sensible. So, I think Formula One is looking at the calendar, trying to think if there’s a more efficient route to take around the world rather than going backward and forwards, it’s those kinds of things that I think can make a difference.


[18:05] Ed Bernardon: What do you think motorsports is going to be like in the year 2050? Who knows what the regulations might be, but certainly sustainability and no emissions — it could be anything. How do you think it’s going to go? What’s going to happen between now and then?


[18:21] Rob Gray: First of all, I’m gonna look back. If you look back at a similar time period.


[18:25] Ed Bernardon: Yeah, it’s a good way to do it. It could be what? ‘95 or something like that.


[18:27] Rob Gray: Yeah, something like that. The cars are still pretty recognizable as cars. They’re not like a wholesale change. I think you have to go further back to see that; it was still a mid-engine carbon fiber chassis back then. That’s fairly interesting. Then, thinking about where the cars would go, well, on the Formula One side, I’m imagining probably more electrical. I’d be surprised if, at some point, front axle electrical recovery doesn’t come into the mix. General motorsports-wise, I think the rise of esports is probably the biggest thing that we’re going to see change. There is a lot of news at the moment about how there are going to be new ladders into motorsport via the eSports world. I think that’s a fairly sort of inevitable development. It’s a lower-cost route into motorsport, and it’s probably a more sustainable route. So I think that’s the biggest thing I think will mostly change.


[19:15] Ed Bernardon: I love how you thought about the problem; it shows how Red Bull Technologies thinks: “Let’s look back.” Let’s take that a step further, then. If we take the next century, 2100, that’s 75 years into the future. If we go 75 years back into the ’50s or ’60s, that’s right about when Formula One really was getting started. We’re at the midpoint, from where Formula One started to the year 2100. You raised a good point, a Formula One car in that first Formula One race at Silverstone.


[19:46] Rob Gray: There was a lot more variety back then. That was pre-aero as well, so it was before the aerodynamic rules came in. In 2100, I don’t know. It’s a long way away. You can get carried away.


[19:55] Ed Bernardon: But you are in advanced technology, so you’re the right person to ask this to.


[19:59] Rob Gray: You can get carried away and think, are we going to be doing Star Wars’ Star Pod racing, or what’s it going to be? It’s just as deep as your imagination can be. I love the idea or something like that. But it also feels slightly fanciful. I think there is also a lot of heritage in the sport that we’ll be trying to keep. So, I hope the cars will still be recognizable as cars, they’ll be hugely efficient, the sustainability aspects will all have been sorted out; they’ll still be noisy, keep the emotion in the sport, and we’ll still be enjoying it.


[20:26] Ed Bernardon: It’s interesting when you talk about some of those early cars. Now, you’ve got Formula One drivers trying to drive a car as fast as they can. Obviously, a lot of common skills are those drivers in the ‘50s, say, but they’re also pressing buttons for DRS, and they have got to worry about warming up the tires. I suppose when you start adding all these technologies, there are going to be certain people that are going to be able to bring those skills out, there’s going to be a unique combination, like you said, now they come up from karting and work their way through to eventually get to Formula One. Now, eSports might be a critical part of what that 2100 race driver is going to have to do. Who knows?


[21:05] Rob Gray: Yeah, I think it’s likely.


[21:07] Ed Bernardon: Rob, thank you so much. You’ve really given us a great look into Red Bull Technology. Another side of something different than what we’re all familiar with, like I said, is the Formula One team. 


[21:16] [Outro music]

Before I let you go, we have a tradition here on our podcast called Rapid Fire. So, quick questions, quick answers. Ready to go?


[54:06] Rob Gray: Yeah. 


[54:09] Ed Bernardon: I love your “Yeah.” What was the first car you ever bought or owned?


[54:14] Rob Gray: Oh, a VW Beetle.


[54:15] Ed Bernardon: Oh, a Beetle! Classic. Did you pass your driver’s test on the first try?


[54:21] Rob Gray: Yes.


[54:22] Ed Bernardon: Have you gotten a speeding ticket?


[54:24] Rob Gray: Yes. 


[54:25] Ed Bernardon: Tell us your best speeding ticket story.


[54:28] Rob Gray: Driving to Le Mans in a borrowed Holden Monaro V8 and getting pulled over for going too quickly and losing my driving license in France for two weeks and having to get my passenger to drive.


[54:38] Ed Bernardon: So, how fast do you have to go to lose your driver’s license for two weeks?


[54:45] Rob Gray: I can’t remember, but it was like 30 kph over the speed limit or something like that.


[54:59] Ed Bernardon: Is that the fastest you’ve ever driven a car on the street?


[54:43] Rob Gray: I don’t know. I’ve driven across Germany quite a few times.


[54:56] Ed Bernardon: What do you think is your top speed on the road? And in Germany, it is legal.


[55:00] Rob Gray: Yeah, in Germany, it’s legal. I don’t know. Nothing silly: 100-120 kph, something like that. But you think you’re going fast in Germany, and then people just come steaming straight past you.


[55:10] Ed Bernardon: We haven’t talked about autonomous cars yet. We’re going to call this autonomous car “Living Room on Wheels.” So, you don’t have to worry about driving; it’s all taken care of. You’ve got a five-hour trip. This autonomous car is going to take you – we use the example of Boston to New York City, or maybe even to Washington, or something like that, across the UK somewhere. Describe what’s in your Living Room on Wheels.


[55:35] Rob Gray: Well, you’ve got to be comfortable, haven’t you? Are you allowed to go to sleep in your autonomous car? 


[55:38] Ed Bernardon: You can have whatever you want. 


[55:40] Rob Gray: So, yeah, I can see myself quite relaxed, maybe reading a book, listening to music, just chilling out.


[55:46] Ed Bernardon: What person, living or who has lived in the past and is no longer with us, would you want to have on that five-hour trip with you? It can be anybody.


[55:54] Rob Gray: Wow. Well, assuming I’m not sleeping and we’re just having a conversation.


[55:57] Ed Bernardon: Yeah, you can’t. I’m sorry. Maybe you could read a book together or watch a movie together or something. Who would it be?


[56:03] Rob Gray: I don’t know. How about the late Prince Philip? He lived through a very interesting range of times. Saw a lot of interesting stuff. I think he’s got a lot of stories.


[56:12] Ed Bernardon: Do you like history? Are you a history buff?


[56:14] Rob Gray: Yeah.


[56:15] Ed Bernardon: If you could have had a career in anything else but racing, what would it have been?


[56:20] Rob Gray: Probably America’s Cup.


[56:22] Ed Bernardon: That’s why you want to build that super fast boat that’s going to go across the Atlantic. What do you wish you were better at?


[56:28] Rob Gray: My children would say they wish I was better at singing for having been able to go to Christmas concerts with them recently.


[56:33] Ed Bernardon: Do you want to do some practice now maybe? No? If you could magically invent one thing, what would it be?


[56:42] Rob Gray: Carbon capture.


[56:45] Ed Bernardon: Tell us something about yourself that would surprise your family and friends that they don’t know.


[56:51] Rob Gray: So far, we’re in Vegas, and Dry January is going well.


[56:58] Ed Bernardon: Rob, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast, and good luck with all these exciting projects. I hope you get some interesting requests in the coming year and the years after that. Thank you so much for joining us on the podcast.


[57:10] Rob Gray:

Thank you for having me.

Rob Gray | Technical Director at Red Bull Advanced Technologies

Rob Gray | Technical Director at Red Bull Advanced Technologies

Rob Gray is Technical Director at Red Bull Advanced Technologies. He began his career trackside with the Jaguar Racing Formula 1 team in 2002 and quickly stepped up to the role of Project Engineer following the team’s acquisition by Red Bull in 2005. At Red Bull Racing Rob became Development Group Leader and Head of Drivetrain Engineering before rising to Head of R&D Projects in 2009. Rob was later appointed Deputy Chief Designer and eventually Chief Designer. In 2020, Rob moved to Red Bull Advanced Technologies to run the division and oversee all of its current projects.

Ed Bernardon

Ed Bernardon

Ed is currently VP Strategic Automotive Initiatives at Siemens Digital Industries Software. Responsibilities include strategic planning and business development in areas of design of autonomous/connected vehicles, lightweight automotive structures and interiors. He is also responsible for Future Car thought leadership which includes hosting the Future Car Podcast and development of cross divisional projects. Previously he was a founding member of VISTAGY that developed light-weight structure and automotive interior design software acquired by Siemens in 2011, he previously directed the Automation and Design Technology Group at MIT Draper Laboratory.  Ed holds an M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT, B.S. in mechanical engineering from Purdue, and MBA from Butler.

The Future Car Podcast Podcast

The Future Car Podcast

Transportation plays a big part in our everyday life and with autonomous and electric cars, micro-mobility and air taxis to name a few, mobility is changing at a rate never before seen. On the Siemens Future Car Podcast we interview industry leaders creating our transportation future to inform our listeners in an entertaining way about the evolving mobility landscape and the people that are helping us realize it. Guests range from C-Level OEM executives, mobility startup founders/CEO’s, pioneers in AI law, Formula 1 drivers and engineers, Smart Cities architects, government regulators and many more. Tune in to learn what will be in your mobility future.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at https://blogs.sw.siemens.com/podcasts/the-future-car/ed-bernardon/from-hypercars-to-racing-boats-to-skateparks-in-the-sky-red-bull-advanced-technologies-does-it-all-part-2/