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Bloodhound SSC makes first public run at 338km/h

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The Bloodhound Supersonic Car recently reached a milestone when it reached speeds of up to 338km/h on a 2.7km long runway accelerating a rate of 1.5G, reaching 322km/h from a standing start in just 8 seconds.

The Bloodhound Supersonic Car (Bloodhound  SSC), which aims to break the current world land speed record and reach 1600km/h, has reached a major milestone. Last week it successfully completed its first test runs at Cornwall Airport Newquay in the UK.

Bloodhound  SSC, driven by current record holder Wing Commander Andy Green, reached speeds of up to 338km/h on the 2.7km long runway. It accelerated at a rate of 1.5G, reaching 322km/h from a standing start in just 8 seconds.

The event marked the culmination of a month of tests and was the first opportunity to prove the car’s steering, brakes, suspension, data systems and the EJ200 jet engine before the team head to the Hakskeen Pan in South Africa with an iniital target of reaching 1 287 km/h. The team will then go back to the UK to review the data before returning to South Africa with the aim of reaching 1 609 km/h. It would thus be the first land vehicle to reach 1000 miles per hour.

Global database software leader Oracle has provided the technology platform for feeding data from the Bloodhound to an international audience.

Castrol, the chosen oil of the Bloodhound project and a partner since 2014, points out it has a notable heritage in Land Speed Racing, “the original, purest and fastest form of automotive competition”. The world land speed record has been broken 21 times with Castrol as a partner, from Kenelm Lee Guinness’s first record attempt in 1922 at 215km/h to the current record of 1 228km/h, set by Andy Green in Thrust SSC on 15 October 1997.

Bloodhound SSC is powered by an incredible 100 669kW, which is more than six times the total power output of the entire field of starters in Formula One. To achieve this immense power output and the target speed, the project team led by Richard Noble is placing its trust in a jet engine, rocket propulsion and a variety of high-performance lubricants from Castrol. These include their strongest engine oil Castrol Edge Supercar.

“It was great to finally see the car in action today,” said Richard Noble, Bloodhound project director. Bloodhound” SSC is a unique, high-technology project and it is fantastic that we can rely on Castrol’s pioneering technology for all the car’s lubricants. When it comes to the record attempts, we’ve got to get the highest power to weight ratio as we possibly can. We’ve got to get the car as light as we can and yet maintain its strength and Castrol will certainly contribute with their terrific history of record-breaking.”

A.S. Ramchander, VP Marketing, Castrol said, “This partnership gives us the chance to showcase how our high-performance products push the boundaries of performance and we have our sights firmly set on partnering on a 22nd World Land Speed Record.”

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Body-tracking tech moves to assembly line

Technology typically used by the world’s top sport stars to raise their game, or ensure their signature skills are accurately replicated in leading video games, is now being used on an auto assembly line.

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Employees at Ford’s Valencia Engine Assembly Plant, in Spain, are using a special suit equipped with advanced body tracking technology. The pilot system, created by Ford and the Instituto Biomecánica de Valencia, has involved 70 employees in 21 work areas. 

Player motion technology usually records how athletes sprint or turn, enabling sport coaches or game developers to unlock the potential of sport stars in the real world or on screen. Ford is using it to design less physically stressful workstations for enhanced manufacturing quality.

“It’s been proven on the sports field that with motion tracking technology, tiny adjustments to the way you move can have a huge benefit,” said Javier Gisbert, production area manager, Ford Valencia Engine Assembly Plant. “For our employees, changes made to work areas using similar technology can ultimately ensure that, even on a long day, they are able to work comfortably.”

Engineers took inspiration from a suit they saw at a trade fair that demonstrated how robots could replicate human movement and then applied it to their workplace, where production of the  new Ford Transit Connect and 2.0-litre EcoBoost Duratec engines began this month.

The skin-tight suit consists of 15 tiny movement tracking light sensors connected to a wireless detection unit. The system tracks how the person moves at work, highlighting head, neck, shoulder and limb movements. Movement is recorded by four specialised motion-tracking cameras – similar to those usually paired with computer game consoles – placed near the worker and captured as a 3D skeletal character animation of the user.

Specially trained ergonomists then use the data to help employees align their posture correctly. Measurements captured by the system, such as an employee’s height or arm length, are used to design workstations, so they better fit employees. 

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Electric cars begin to bridge the luxury gap

A new era has dawned as electric mobility bridges the gap between luxury and necessity, writes TREVOR HILL – head of Audi South Africa.

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Mobility is essential to today’s world. We travel to get to work, to go shopping, and to meet friends and family – in short, effective transport impacts on all aspects of our modern lives. Access to mobility is critical to economic growth and progress, bringing more opportunities and better productivity. At the same time however, growing environmental concerns and a looming shortage of fossil fuels have created tension between our ever-growing demand for mobility and the health of our planet.

Growing populations, increasing urbanization and economic and social development mean that there are more cars on our roads each day. The knock-on effects of this are greater levels of congestion and longer times spent commuting, which means more stress and higher levels of aggression on the road. Skyrocketing levels of air pollution – to which transportation is one of the leading contributors – has negative effects on both health and climate change, both of which are key issues in global policy agendas.

So, the writing has been on the wall for some time. The gold standard in automotive technological progress has thus been to achieve a radical reduction of engine emissions and the development of electric cars has been at the forefront of this charge. We have now entered the beginning of a new era, as more and more of these vehicles take to the roads. Electric cars are now at the cusp of the mass market, with a steady stream of new models set to reach the consumer in future. Last week, we launched the Audi e-tron, our first all-electric-drive SUV, at a world premiere in San Francisco – one huge leap forward in pursuit of our goal. Audi will also bring more than 20 electrified models to the market by 2025, from the compact class to the full-size category. Around a dozen models will be all-electric, while the remainder will be plug-in hybrids for emission-free driving on shorter journeys.

Powering this development is ongoing improvement in battery technology, with increasing energy density and lengthened driving ranges possible between charges. Consumers have noted that they feel confident using electric cars for day-to-day use once battery technology can sustain a driving range of 300 or more kilometres, which is now possible. The Audi e-tron has a range of 400 kilometers, making it ideal for long distance driving. Drivers who charge the e-tron overnight can set off in the morning in full confidence that they won’t need to stop at a charging station as they go about their day.

What this technological progress also means however, is that the levels of power and performance achieved by an electric car draw ever closer to those of traditional engines. For anyone who loves high strung, powerful engines and the rush of adrenaline that comes from flooring the throttle on an empty stretch of road, this is no small thing.  At Audi, we are lucky to be surrounded by some of the most exceptional engines ever produced, so few people understand the thrill of an extraordinary driving experience better than we do. So, the holy grail is to achieve this same performance with vastly improved economy.

The Audi e-tron’s electric drive has two asynchronous motors, one at the front, one at the rear, with a total output of 300 kW of power. This allows the Audi e-tron to accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in just 5.7 seconds.

The next step will be the development of electric cars suitable for those who regularly drive long distances, entailing further advances in battery technology, and the development of a network of charging stations across the country. The battery for the Audi e-tron is designed to last the entire life cycle of the vehicle. When charged at a high-power charging station at up to 150 kW, the Audi e-tron can be restored to 80% in less than half an hour. At 22 kW, the Audi e-tron can charge its battery to 100% in around four and a half hours.

For city dwellers, however, the age of electric mobility has well and truly arrived. Rapid advances in technology continue to drive progress; the rise of electric cars is only one of many developments set to transform transportation as we know it, heralding a cleaner, more efficient future.

 

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