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Intel Transportation Technology

The Bloodhound Will Stay On the Ground At 1,000 mph 242

Hugh Pickens writes "BBC reports that engineers designing the world's fastest car, the Bloodhound SSC, built to smash the world land speed record of 763 mph set by the Thrust SuperSonic Car in 1997, believe they have a solution to keep the vehicle flat on the ground at 1,000 mph after initial iterations of the car's aerodynamic shape produced dangerous amounts of lift at the vehicle's rear. John Piper, Bloodhound's technical director, said: 'We've had lift as high as 12 tonnes, and when you consider the car is six-and-a-half tonnes at its heaviest — that amount of lift is enough to make the car fly.' The design effort has been aided by project sponsor Intel, who brought immense computing power to bear on the lift problem. Before Intel's intervention, the design team had worked through 11 different 'architectures' in 18 months. The latest modelling work run on Intel's network investigated 55 configurations in eight weeks. By playing with the position and shape of key elements of the car's rear end, the design team found the best way to manage the shockwave passing around and under the vehicle as it goes supersonic. 'At Mach 1.3, we've close to zero lift, which is where we wanted to be,' says Piper. In late 2011, the Bloodhound, powered by a rocket bolted to a Eurofighter-Typhoon jet engine, will mount an assault on the land speed record, driving across a dried up lakebed known as Hakskeen Pan, in the Northern Cape of South Africa."
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The Bloodhound Will Stay On the Ground At 1,000 mph

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  • by Fluffeh ( 1273756 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @05:13AM (#31505940)
    Righto, time to ask the serious questions! But what happens when they hit 88 miles per hour?
  • by Jeoh ( 1393645 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @05:14AM (#31505942)

    Why don't they make it drive on a treadmill?

    • Re:Easier solution (Score:4, Insightful)

      by PhongUK ( 1301747 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @05:21AM (#31505982)
      They would have to then engineer a treadmill that can move the belt at 1000MPH, a wind machine that can blow wind at 1000MPH so that the Bloodhounds engines get the intake that it needs. They would then likely have to take care of all the exhaust gasses... ... AND IT WOULDN'T BE AS COOL!
      • by vlm ( 69642 )


        Says the guy whom never got together with his drunken buddies, turned a treadmill up all the way, dropped stuff on the belt, and watched it fly thru the air and crashland. If you prop up the end, a 15 MPH treadmill can launch a pumpkin surprisingly far. Not as far as one of those "pumpkin chucking compressed air gun" things, but still plenty of fun. One empty beer can launched through space is "eh". A couple dozen, simultaneously, is much louder, visually impressive, and funny. Especially if your buddi

      • no way, engineer a treadmill that drives it a hundred miles an hour, and stack treadmill machines on top of each other as high as you want
    • Re:Easier solution (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @06:10AM (#31506252) Homepage Journal

      Since it's a jet engine (pushing against the air), it would be the old "Plane on a treadmill" problem. Meaning it would drive off the treadmill.

      • Re:Easier solution (Score:4, Interesting)

        by stiggle ( 649614 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @07:11AM (#31506504)

        Its a jet engine pushing it up towards 1000mph, but its a solid fuelled rocket (liquid oxidiser) that pushes it over.
        A lot of their design towards the end of last year was deciding whether to put the Jet over Rocket (JoR) or Rocket over Jet (RoJ) in the tail of the vehicle.

        They decided on the JoR configuration as it provided better stability & airflow through the jet.

        This project is also about getting kids interested in engineering again, and they're making their data publicly available.

        They've been touring with the full size model of the car visiting towns doing workshops with the school kids about the stuff they're doing and experiments & tests the kids can do themselves. They were kind enough to park the car outside my office when they were in my home town.

      • Every time I have seen the 'plane on a treadmill' problem stated, the way in which it was stated has always been flawed to a point where its ambiguous and unanswerable - there are some ways to state it where the result potentially is that the plane will never leave the treadmill, depending on how you interpret the question.

        And I think that was the entire point of the question posed.
    • Because if it vibrates at the right resonant frequency on the treadmill, it might accidentally be transported to the 30th century or to Earth-Two. []

  • by pecosdave ( 536896 ) * on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @05:20AM (#31505966) Homepage Journal

    Seriously, you rip the wings off of a fighter jet and make it stay on the ground does it become a car? To really be a "car" I would almost argue it needs to be propelled by the wheels.

    • Aside from the fact that that is a different world record in itself, I would like to point you to TFA which goes to great lengths to explain to complexity of even keeping this thing on the ground, so it's hardly some trivial feat.

      • by bkr1_2k ( 237627 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @07:34AM (#31506640)

        That has nothing to do with the fact that this simply isn't a car. It's a rocket/jet with wheels attached. Just because a plane has wheels doesn't make it a car either. Yes, it's very difficult (to understate the issue) to keep any object traveling 1000 mph on the ground, but that doesn't negate the GP's point. It's not a car. It's not designed like a car would be, it's not propelled like a car would be, and it's not driven like a car would be.

        • It's not a car. It's not designed like a car would be

          And that is precisely why Lamborghini and Ferrari have decided to stay at home for this one, and McLaren also sent in their regrets (they had other plans that day, TBH).

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          i would argue that not the design method, but rather the designed purpose would determine what an object is.

          This thing is designed to move accross a hard surface supported by wheels, pretty much making it a car (notice i explicitely said wheels to rule out any funnymen with the 'but but hovercraft is a car' argument).

          It might not be a car in the traditional ford sense of the word, you wont drive your kids to school in it, and it isnt practical for everyday use, but its purpose is still driving accross terai

      • by bcmm ( 768152 )

        Aside from the fact that that is a different world record in itself

        So are "fastest vehicle with an FM radio" and "fastest blue vehicle". However, they aren't interesting records.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by vikingpower ( 768921 )
      Please do remember that, originally, "car" was any vehicle drawn by animals.
    • Since most fighter jets, even wingless, would come off the ground at 1000 mph, the answer is yes.
    • by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @05:54AM (#31506170) Homepage

      The only thing it has in common with a car is that it has wheels and runs on the ground. Given its size and weight it would be more accurate to call it a jet powered truck.

      IMO the real land speed record is the wheel driven ones , not the one where you just strap a huge rocket on the back and try and stay on the ground.

      • by hanabal ( 717731 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @07:02AM (#31506460)

        If this works it will be travelling across the land with a higher speed than anything that has ever travelled across the land, hence the title "land speed record". I agree with you that the wheel powered one is in some ways more important, but something has to be declared fastest land vehicle and it seems fitting for it to be the fastest vehicle on the land. If Fred Flinstone could run fast enough to make his car faster than any other car in history, would you deny him the land speed record?

    • by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @05:56AM (#31506182) Homepage Journal

      Depends on if it's a fixed aero-surface vehicle or not. F1 cars had variable surface aero-parts for one or two years before they were outright banned. The idea was that you could increase the angle of attack to increase downpressure in the corners, but make the car aerodynamically neutral in the straightaways so you're spending more power on thrust rather than dividing it between thrust and downforce. Depending on how the rules for "world's fastest car" are written, how the aero is done determines how impressive this really is. If John Carmack can write a javascript to control thrust for a vertical takeoff rocket (Armadillo Aerospace), you can design a fast car with dynamic aerosurfaces. Building a fixed aero car that's neutral at 1000mph but won't fly into the air and flip when you hit a rock is a lot harder to do. Check out this hella sweet video of a Le Mans car doing exactly that at 220mph: []
      I'll admit this post was an excuse to post that video, but damn if it isn't cool. And that's at a quarter of the speed at which they'll be attempting this. It's not as easy as it looks.

      Here's another cool video of the same thing happening. It's relatively common, even though they design against this exact sort of thing from happening. []

      • Yeah I think they should build it as a ground effect aircraft with non-load bearing wheels which reach down to the ground to make it technically a car.

      • Those were cool videos.

      • What they need to build is a car that can do that at the touch of a button and land on all 4 wheels.. kind of like in Speed Racer. Entirely pointless, but it would be fun on a victory lap!

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) *
        I remember watching an F1 race where just before the finish line the guy in second place does a 360deg flip lands on his wheels then rolls across the finish line still in secind place. I love youtube, took me 5 minutes to find it at 2:13 on this compilation [].
        • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

          I wonder how the conversation went after that race... "well, you completely destroyed the car, and broke every bone in your body, but at least we didn't lose the race!!"

          • Second is losing.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Hadlock ( 143607 )

              Only in the 2000-2004 F1 series*. Each race in the series assigns points, so a 2nd place (2pts) is far superior to a DNF (fleet+1, or 9pts). You can recover from a 2nd, or even a 3rd place and still win the series, but after one DNF you're just racing due to your sponsorship contract, hoping another team has more DNF or DNS than you do by the end.

              *2000-2004 is when Schumacher wiped the floor with the F1 series, pretty much running uncontested in 1st place with the Ferrari team, basically uncontested

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by radish ( 98371 )

                Umm...I've been watching F1 for a lot of years, and I'm pretty sure you never got more points for a DNF than for a second place. DNF = 0 points (except in very unusual circumstances), 2nd = 8 last year or 18 this year.

                As for a DNF killing your season, that's crap. Button won the championship last year and got 1 DNF, Hamilton did the same the year before. In 2007 Raikkonen won the championship despite 2 DNFs, likewise Alonso in 2006. For a driver to complete every race in the season is pretty rare, particula

      • by Yaur ( 1069446 )
        Its supersonic... so active areo would work different if at all.
      • >>Depending on how the rules for "world's fastest car" are written, how the aero is done determines how impressive this really is.

        I guess. Even the world's fastest car will be doing between 0 and 10MPH in Los Angeles traffic if it can't fly.

        I just don't see the point to taking an airplane, putting it on wheels, and spending effort trying to get it not to fly when it's doing 1000MPH.

        Why not just get a supersonic fighter and have it tow a little unicycle along the salt flats?

      • Beginning this year they have re-introduced limited adjustability of the front wing in F1. []
    • I'm sorry, but after changes in the FIA and FIM rules between 1963 - 64 [], the only thing it needs to qualify as a 'car' for the purpose of making a stab at the absolute land speed record is four wheels or more. Less than four wheels and it's a motorcycle.

      There is however a seperate record for wheel driven cars [].

    • by Xest ( 935314 )

      Does it even matter?

      Does it have to be a car to break the land speed record, or will any land vehicle do? If it's the latter, then this thing fits the bill and that's what matters.

  • Intel FPU? (Score:3, Funny)

    by dltaylor ( 7510 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @05:20AM (#31505974)

    Who in their right mind would trust an Intel FPU with their life?

    Yeah, it may look like a troll, but some of us remember the FDIV bug.

    Every billion, or so, calculations might be wrong, but, since you never know WHICH is wrong in an application, it must be assumed that they ALL are.

    • If there was a bug, it's unlikely the final result would make sense. "It would go fastest with the engine in the ground!", or "it would go fastest with the engine backwards!". With that many calculations, one error would be magnified.

      • Re:Intel FPU? (Score:4, Informative)

        by alanw ( 1822 ) <> on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @05:47AM (#31506120) Homepage

        If there was a bug, it's unlikely the final result would make sense. "It would go fastest with the engine in the ground!", or "it would go fastest with the engine backwards!". With that many calculations, one error would be magnified.

        A floating point conversion error caused an Ariane 5 rocket to explode back in 1996 []

        • I'd consider that evidence supporting my assertion. A minor bug caused a pretty obvious error in the software's output. In this case the output was rocket motion, in the bloodhound's case the software's output is only the design of the vehicle. A similar bug at the design stage should be just as obvious (e.g. "The wings should be minus 3000 meters long!") and not result in loss of life.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by yams ( 637038 )
          I don't think this has anything to do with floating point errors. From your linked article:

          Specifically a 64 bit floating point number relating to the horizontal velocity of the rocket with respect to the platform was converted to a 16 bit signed integer. The number was larger than 32,767, the largest integer storeable in a 16 bit signed integer, and thus the conversion failed.

          I would interpret this as:

          Some moron typecast a double to an int without thinking about allowable ranges

          In other words, it is

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by u38cg ( 607297 )
      On stuff like this, you make damned sure your calculations are verifiable. That said, the dynamics of the sound barrier are so complex that I think the chances are their models will not be good enough and some fool will end up as landscape to prove it.
    • by Xest ( 935314 )

      Yeah, cos when a company fucks up like that, it's not like they ever learn anything from it, and that company remains static for the rest of it's existence in this respect.

      It is doomed to repeat these expensive costly mistakes, and would never do anything to rectify them.

      Seriously, you think a 16 year old bug is in any way relevant to Intel's modern line of chips where processes, architecture, and methods have changed drastically? You realise that AMD wasn't even building their own design chips until 1996 a

  • by iJusten ( 1198359 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @05:27AM (#31506018)
    763 mph=1 228 km/h
    1000 mph=1609 km/h
  • It seems to me there's something silly about the requirement of a physical connection to the ground. No one would argue that Luke Skywalker's land speeder wasn't a 'land based' vehicle -- and yet (if it existed) it would not qualify for the land-speed record by the rules currently set forth.

    Today's hovercraft are not "airships" per se. I would argue that an 'association' to the ground, and a strict limitation in terms of altitude still qualifies as ground based.

    • Hovercraft, which are neither land nor aircraft, are a 3rd category.
    • By your definition someone could break the land speed record by just flying a jet fighter at very low level.

      "Today's hovercraft are not "airships" per se"

      No , they're hovercrafts, not cars or ships.

      • by popo ( 107611 )

        My definition included: "and a strict limitation in terms of altitude".

        A jet fighter would not qualify.

    • the main advantage of land speed records is that they're not top secret
  • by krou ( 1027572 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @05:33AM (#31506048)

    "that amount of lift is enough to make the car fly"

    At last!

  • You all must remember Tsutomu Shimomura, who enjoyed his fifteen minutes of fame as a result of nabbing Ub3r-H4x0r Kevin Mitnick. Tsutomu and I were good friends at Caltech back in the early 80s. We were both "Scurves", or members of Ricketts House.

    Tsutomu never actually got his degree. I have long lost touch with him, so I don't know whether he ever went back to school, but at least for many years he was working as a research physicist with no degree of any sort. Not even a BS. I actually got better

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by imsabbel ( 611519 )

      My bullshit detector is tingeling quit a bit in your post.

      He hasnt published anything even near that direction.
      He isnt mentioned or documented in even working in that field.

      If he really did a breakthrough that was so top secret they have it still confidential 20+ years later, than why did he tell YOU?

      • Damn, thats emberassing. got the wrong person...

        He did work on cellular automatism for fluid dynamics, but that whole field was just a stopgap that never went anywhere.
        The quote you said is pretty telling. 1000 times the speed of a cray isnt really much at all, especially for algorithms poured into custom hardware.

        • This was around 1985. To be able to build a computer for ten million dollars that solved a particularly important problem a thousand times as fast as a ten million dollar general-purpose computer would be a significant achievement.

          As for telling me stuff that ought to have been top secret... you don't know Tsutomu. I wouldn't dream of accusing him of any kind of crime, but he did like to brag about what a cool frood he was.

    • >>I don't have a link or a literature reference for you. I don't know whether he published an unclassified paper about it, but if he did it shouldn't be hard to dig up.

      Sounds kind of like a transputer. I think they even used it to run Conway's game of life.

  • I guess that at 1000mph, anything can fly.

  • by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @06:11AM (#31506258)
    Once again it fails to get off the ground.
  • by OpenSourced ( 323149 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @06:14AM (#31506272) Journal

    Anybody knows the point of this?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)


      Because records are always increased with time, because it can be done.

      Bloodhound SSC is a project designed to showcase British engineering capabilities and talent and to enthuse and encourage the next generations of engineers who are currently at school and have not yet decided what they want to do for a career.

      Have a look at the project web site, all the information is there. []

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Lord Lode ( 1290856 )

      1. Take rocket
      2. Place it horizontal instead of vertical
      3. ???
      4. Profit!

  • What they really mean is that the current land speed record is 1227 Km/h and they're trying to reach 1609 Km/h. Now, that's better.
  • Finally - no more of those long, boring police chase videotapes coming out of L.A.

    Just "This is Action 4 News enroute to a reported car chase on the I-TABOOOOOM....what the hell was that?"

  • by paiute ( 550198 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @07:40AM (#31506674)

    This story made me think of the phrase "not enough of him left to fill a matchbox".

  • The race is on (Score:3, Informative)

    by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @08:14AM (#31506888)
    There are 3 teams racing to break this record. The Brits, the Aussies and a USA/Canada team [].
    • Too bad the North American Eagle team are having a hard time raising funding. It's interesting to see a J79 powered 104 go up against all this new radical technology. The F-104 was known for it's low altitude speed ability.

      Darryl Greenamyer's [] Red Baron F-104 did 998 mph (mach 1.30) officially and 1013 mph (mach 1.33) unofficially. At less than 300 ft, back in the '70's. The J79 has to be water/alcohol injected during runs like these, otherwise it will exceed it's maximum inlet operating temps.

  • I can’t imagine that they didn’t come up with just attaching reverse wings / gigantic spoilers to it.
    If they did, then what’s the reason they don’t use them? Sounds extremely obvious to me...

  • Car? Plane? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Terrasque ( 796014 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @09:15AM (#31507356) Homepage Journal

    Let me see.. Rocket engine, uplift much higher than weight, 1000mph...

    That's a jet plane, not a car. Sure, it got better landing wheels than normal, and a bit special body, but it's still a goddamn jet plane.
    If that's a car, we've had flying cars for over 50 years now.

  • Hands-free? (Score:3, Funny)

    by ShannaraFan ( 533326 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @10:23AM (#31508110)

    Hopefully it includes SYNC or some other means of hands-free cell phone use. You know, for that ever-important phone call. Can't really consider it a car until the driver can yak away while driving...

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