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Bloodhound in the desert

Bloodhound finally reveals its ‘desert-ready’ land speed record-breaking vehicle

Image credit: Bloodhound

A complete prototype of the Bloodhound vehicle that will be attempting to beat the land speed record next year has been unveiled by the British engineering team behind the project.

Beginning its high-speed testing programme in the South African Hakskeenpan desert, the vehicle was shown for the first time with its precision-machined solid aluminium wheels, which are made specifically to withstand supersonic speeds. The tests will see how the wheels perform at speeds over 500mph (800km/h).

The Bloodhound is the world’s fastest straight-line car and is powered by a state-of-the-art EJ200 Eurofighter Typhoon jet engine. It has been designed to break the land speed record of 763.035mph before targeting 1,000mph.

One of the key objectives of the testing programme is actually to evaluate how the car behaves when slowing down and stopping from a number of target speeds.

Only once engineers and driver Andy Green are satisfied they understand the drag and stopping ability of the car will they push the speed limits of the vehicle. They will do this in increments of 50mph (80km/h), building up to their eventual target.

The team will examine how much drag the car creates in a number of scenarios and at various speeds, using the wheel brakes, one or both of the drag parachutes, and with the giant airbrakes locked into position.

First announced in 2008, the Bloodhound project has been in development for more than a decade with the ultimate aim of beating the land speed record.

Last October the Bloodhound Programme went into administration which put the future of the entire project in jeopardy. Luckily it found a buyer in December in the form of British entrepreneur Ian Warhurst and the project is now on course to be ready to make the record attempt at the tail end of 2020.

Bloodhound successfully reached speeds of 200mph (320km/h) during UK runway trials at Cornwall Airport Newquay in October 2017.

Mark Chapman, Bloodhound LSR engineering director, said: “Newquay was all about getting up to speed and finding out how quickly we could get the engine to full power and accelerate using max reheat.

“Andy was on the throttle for two seconds to reach 200mph (322km/h) in eight seconds. Here at the Hakskeenpan on a 10-mile (16km) track we can accelerate for much longer, achieve higher speeds and investigate the car’s stability, performance and drag, all crucial as we move towards setting a new world land speed record.”

The Bloodhound team will deploy a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) IoT remote sensor array during the tests.

Remote micro-climate weather stations will be located every 1km along the 16km track. These are battery-powered devices which record wind speed, gust speed, wind direction, temperature, humidity and barometric pressure.

Since they send back data over a wireless network, they can be located anywhere and still operate, which is crucial in the desert with very little infrastructure.

Data is transmitted from the IoT sensor stations via a low power, long range radio network to a specially made data platform created by tech innovation company Digital Catapult, which converts the data into relevant and useable information used to understand changes in the weather which may affect the car.

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