Kenji's Blog

Blog for Dr Kenji Takeda at the University of Southampton. Find out about what he's up to in aerodynamics, aircraft noise, flight simulation and Formula One teaching, research and schools outreach. Also see what's going on in the School of Engineering Sciences at the University of Southampton.

Monday, January 18, 2010

How many people does it take to break the land speed record?

One? Andy Green is the fastest man on earth, and aiming to drive BLOODHOUND SSC faster than 1000mph – 40% faster than the speed of sound. Of course, he needs a crew out in the South African desert, so add another two or three dozen people at least. Also, there aren’t many supersonic cars on the market, so that means building a new one from scratch.

That’s where it really gets difficult. Combining the sophistication of a jet fighter, the finesse of a Formula One car, and the raw power of a rocket, is pushing the limits of 21st century science and engineering. It requires great leadership and great teamwork, and Richard Noble is certainly the man to pull this together. And he has. The engineering team is small, only 17 people, young and old, bringing together immense experience and huge amounts of joie de vivre.

That’s still not enough though. The BLOODHOUND project is reaching a new milestone – building the car. With the engineering team now moved into its new HQ in Bristol, alongside the legendary SS Great Britain, we’ve finalised the concept design and it’s now time to turn computer models into reality. This means more people, and lots of them.

A car is a complicated device. Thousands of components have to work in perfect harmony and be reliable. Every component has to be both designed and built. The BLOODHOUND team has designed the overall car, but the details - each nut, bolt, valve, circuit board, and the all-important software – has to be realised. The idea behind BLOODHOUND is to showcase British engineering, something that the nation needs to be proud of, and so the call went out – help! And help has been pouring in, from over 160 companies no less.

Conor La Grue is the linchpin here, listening to the engineering team’s needs and trying to find companies willing to help and become part of the project. The response has been tremendous, engineers love a challenge, and they don’t get much bigger than this! So the team is steadily growing through our vital product sponsors, and everyone is exhilarated that the build phase is getting underway. Conor will be at the Autosport International Show at NEC Birmingham talking to more firms, so if you think you can help then drop by the BLOODHOUND stand (S30, Hall 19).

So, we’re up to a few hundred people now, but it doesn’t stop there. This is where you come in – you can join the team. That’s right, you can lay claim to the world land speed record.

The BLOODHOUND 1K Club is for fans - anyone who wants to be part of possibly the most exciting project in the UK, or world even. 1K members really do get involved, with special days to meet the team, the car and even see it running in the UK. Not only that, you can ride on the car too! Sign up to our Fin Programme and we’ll graffiti your name onto the tail so you can share the record with us.

That’s a few thousand people now. Not to mention the thousands of schools and colleges who have signed up to the education programme. That’s the real point of the whole thing, doing something amazing with science to inspire youngsters, and with over 3,000 schools signed up we’re getting into the tens of thousands of people now.

So while Andy Green will be the one sitting in the hot seat, he stands on the shoulders of thousands, and as they say, it could be you. so check out and join the team - we need YOU!

Note - A short Version of this is also available at Wired UK


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