GE redesigns Santa’s sleigh

As the world celebrates the winter holiday season and looks forward to a bright 2010, technologists at General Electric (GE) have unveiled a 21st-century sleigh for Santa Claus.

‘In the spirit of the holiday season, we thought it would be fun to imagine what our scientists and engineers could do if we put our technology achievements together to design and build a concept ‘Sleigh of the Future’ for Santa Claus,’ said Mark Little, senior vice president and director of GE Global Research.

Of the dozens of major technical achievements they made in 2009, GE technologists incorporated 10 into their ‘Sleigh of the Future’ design.

The first of these is a frame for the sleigh made from GE’s specialised carbon-fibre-composite materials, designed to be lighter and stronger to increase travel time from house to house. This is complemented by durable blades made from ceramic-matrix composites (CMCs), instead of metal, to enable more efficient flight and cut down on rooftop ‘clatter’.

Icephobic coatings sprayed on the exterior of the sleigh prevent ice buildup while travelling through new fallen snow and red self-powered OLED lighting in the front of the sleigh supplements Rudolph’s red nose and increases Santa’s visibility on a foggy Christmas Eve.

GE’s Trip Optimizer technology on the sleigh’s dashboard optimises Santa’s travel around the globe and the company’s Asset Intelligence tracking technology for Santa’s elves at the North Pole track Santa’s whereabouts and the condition of his inventory (the gifts) at all times. A 500GB holographic disc replaces the miles-long list filled with the children’s Christmas wishes.

A wireless medical sensor monitors Santa’s breathing to make sure he is his jolly old self, while a wearable RFID sensor worn on his red suit checks that those last glasses of milk left out all evening haven’t spoiled.

Onboard GE sodium batteries store energy to provide supplemental power for the sleigh and offer Santa’s reindeer well-deserved breaks on their long journey around the world.

More on the sleigh and the technologies behind it can be found here.