Bloodhound revealed in South African desert

The Bloodhound Land Speed Record (LSR) team has revealed the full desert spec car for the first time. Bloodhound aims to claim a new World Land Speed Record next year and is beginning its high-speed testing programme in the Hakskeenpan desert, Northern Cape, South Africa.

It’s the first time the car has been seen with its precision machined solid aluminium wheels, made specially to withstand the stresses of traveling at supersonic speeds. In the first test session, the wheels will be tested up to 500+ mph).

One of the key objectives of the high-speed testing programme is, counterintuitively, 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, and they understand the drag and stopping ability of the car will they push to the next run profile, building speed in each run by increments of 50 mph.

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

Data from 192 pressure sensors on the car will be monitored and compared against the predicted CFD (computational fluid dynamic) models to ensure they marry up. Bloodhound’s engineers will be working with Assistant Professor Ben Evans and Jack Townsend, from Swansea University, to check the data, which will reveal the amount of drag experienced by the car on each run. This data is critical to determine the size of the rocket that will be fitted to the car for the attempt to set a new World Land Speed Record in 12-18 months’ time.

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 200 mph in eight seconds. Here at the Hakskeenpan on a 10-mile 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.”

One of the most cutting-edge pieces of technology employed by the Bloodhound team in the desert will be the Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) IoT remote sensor array. Remote micro-climate weather stations will be located every 1 km along the 16 km 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.

This is vital in keeping Andy Green and the Bloodhound car safe. Cross winds in particular will affect the stability of the car at such high speeds.