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Bloodhound races to Oracle

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The Bloodhound Project has teamed up with Oracle to smash the land speed record and inspire future generations of budding scientists and engineers. 

As Bloodhound’s new Cloud partner, Oracle will provide technology to help Bloodhound collect, analyse and broadcast data from more than 500 sensors installed on the Bloodhound SSC (Super Sonic Car) to classrooms around the world. This information gives students a detailed look at how technology is rocketing the world’s fastest land vehicle towards 1000mph.

This landmark engineering endeavour will help teachers inspire students about science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects. The Project has already become a leading STEM resource with over one hundred thousand students doing Bloodhound related activities in UK school’s every year.  Millions more are engaged worldwide and with the car set to begin track tests this year, that number is expected to soar.

Bloodhound Project Director, Richard Noble, said: “The aviation and space races of the 1960s inspired a wave of young people to pursue careers in science and engineering, and our hope is that Bloodhound will do the same at a time where technical skills are in painfully short supply. We want students to feel they are right there with us as we chase 1000mph, and by working with Oracle we’ll be able to deliver on that promise.”

Oracle technology isn’t just helping Bloodhound to drive its education programme; it will also help the team’s engineers optimise the Bloodhound SSC for its ultimate record-breaking attempt. With a real-time view of how different components and technologies in the car are performing, the Bloodhound team will be able to quickly spot and address any technical issues as they build up towards the 1000mph run.

The first major outing for this technology will come in October, when the Bloodhound is scheduled for its first 200mph test in Newquay, Cornwall.

John Abel, Oracle’s Bloodhound Project Lead, said: “The Bloodhound Project is about moving fast in more ways than one. The team’s engineers will need fast data and even faster insights to fine-tune what is a unique, prototype vehicle pushing the limits of computer design and material technology. Our solutions will provide the foundation for these insights over the next two years.  We look forward to seeing Bloodhound set a new benchmark for human ingenuity, discovery and speed as they drive STEM education around the world.”

Oracle joins other team Partners including Castrol, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, Nammo, MTN, Rolex, Rolls Royce and a host of Technical Partners and Suppliers.

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Why sports cars make us feel good

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Forget romance, fine dining or an epic boxset binge – new preliminary research reveals that driving a sports car on a daily basis is among the best ways to boost your sense of wellbeing and emotional fulfilment.

The study measured “buzz moments” – peak thrills that play a vital role in our overall wellness – as volunteers cheered on their favourite football team, watched a gripping Game of Thrones episode, enjoyed a passionate kiss with a loved one or took an intense salsa dancing class. Only the occasional highs of riding a roller coaster ranked higher than the daily buzz of a commute in a sports car.

Working with neuroscientists and designers, Ford brought the research to life with the unique Ford Performance Buzz Car: a customised Ford Focus RS incorporating wearable and artificial intelligence technology to animate the driver’s emotions in real time across the car’s exterior. 

Watch the video here https://youtu.be/AFpt6jziFsU

“A roller coaster may be good for a quick thrill, but it’s not great for getting you to work every day,” said Dr Harry Witchel, Discipline Leader in Physiology. “This study shows how driving a performance car does much more than get you from A to B – it could be a valuable part of your daily wellbeing routine.”

Study participants who sat behind the wheel of a Ford Focus RS, Focus ST or Mustang experienced an average of 2.1 high-intensity buzz moments during a typical commute; this compared with an average of 3 buzz moments while riding on a roller coaster, 1.7 while on a shopping trip, 1.5 each while watching a Game of Thrones episode or a football match, and none at all while salsa dancing, fine dining or sharing a passionate kiss. 

For the research, Ford took one Focus RS and worked with Designworks to create the Buzz Car:

From concept, design and installation to software development and programming, the Buzz Car took 1,400 man-hours to create. Each “buzz moment” experienced by the driver – analysed using a real-time “emotional AI” system developed by leading empathic technology firm Sensum – produces a dazzling animation across almost 200,000 LED lights integrated into the car. The Buzz Car also features:

  • High-performance Zotac VR GO gaming PC
  • 110 x 500-lumen daylight-bright light strips
  • 82 display panels with 188,416 individually addressable LEDs

Driver state research

Researchers at the Ford Research and Innovation Center in Aachen, Germany are already looking into how vehicles can better understand and respond to drivers’ emotions. As part of the EUfunded ADAS&ME project, Ford experts are investigating how in-car systems may one day be aware of our emotions – as well as levels of stress, distraction and fatigue – providing prompts and warnings, and could even take control of the car in emergency situations.

“We think driving should be an enjoyable, emotional experience,” said Dr Marcel Mathissen, research scientist at Ford of Europe. “The driver-state research Ford and its partners are undertaking is helping to lead us towards safer roads and – importantly – healthier driving.”

Activity Buzz Moments *
Roller Coaster 3
Driving 2.1
Shopping 1.7
Game of Thrones 1.5
Football Game 1.5
Kissing 0
Salsa Dancing 0
Dining 0

* Average number of high-intensity buzz moments per participant

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Car that sees round corners

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Jaguar Land Rover is leading a £4.7 million (approximately R79 million) project to develop self-driving cars that can ‘see’ at blind junctions and through obstacles.

Britain’s biggest carmaker is leading a project called AutopleX to combine connected, automated and live mapping tech so more information is provided earlier to the self-driving car. This enables automated cars to communicate with all road users and obstacles where there is no direct view, effectively helping them see, so they can safely merge lanes and negotiate complex roundabouts autonomously.

Chris Holmes, Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Research Manager at Jaguar Land Rover said: “This project is crucial in order to bring self-driving cars to our customers in the near future. Together with our AutopleX partners, we will merge our connected and autonomous research to empower our self-driving vehicles to operate safely in the most challenging, real-world traffic situations. This project will ensure we deliver the most sophisticated and capable automated driving technology.”

Jaguar Land Rover is developing fully- and semi-automated vehicle technologies, offering customers a choice of an engaged or automated drive, while maintaining an enjoyable and safe driving experience. The company’s vision is to make the self-driving car viable in the widest range of real-life, on- and off-road driving environments and weather.

AutopleX will develop the technology through simulation and public road testing both on motorways and in urban environments in the West Midlands. Highways England, INRIX, Ricardo, Siemens, Transport for West Midlands and WMG at the University of Warwick join the AutopleX consortium, which was announced as part of Innovate UK’s third round of Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Funding in March 2018.

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