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25 April, 2013 - 10:00 By Tony Quested

Cambridge engineers steer rocket powered car

A team of engineers at Cambridge Design Partnership is involved in finalising the design of the steering wheel for manufacture as part of the Bloodhound Project

Technology from a Cambridge UK product design innovator is being incorporated in a new rocket-powered car that can exceed 1,000 miles per hour – smashing the current world land speed record.

A team of engineers at Cambridge Design Partnership is involved in finalising the design of the steering wheel for manufacture as part of the Bloodhound Project – one of the most exciting and inspiring UK engineering adventures in many years.

The initial steering wheel design was created by the Bloodhound team using a number of novel design techniques – including biomimicry and crowd sourcing – with early concepts being developed in clay from the driver, Andy Green’s hand imprints in the triple layer fire-proof gloves he will wear for the record attempt.

CDP is taking these initial concepts and optimising for driver ergonomics and reaction time, whilst creating a design ready for manufacture.

A whole range of considerations have been included, from the shape of the handgrips to the haptics and location of the buttons and switches which operate the jet and rocket engines as well as parachutes and communications systems.

Amongst all these technical constraints, CDP has also refined an inspiring aesthetic appearance provided by the BLOODHOUND team that reflects the Project’s ethos. The steering wheel is to be manufactured using the latest titanium 3D printing technology which facilitates complex geometry and a high strength to weight ratio, offering great freedom in both form and ergonomics.

The final steering wheel will be on view throughout the land speed record runs from the cockpit cameras, broadcasting Green’s view across the globe as he drives the car across the Hakskeen Pan South Africa at record breaking speeds.

The Bloodhound Project team comprises some of the world’s most revered engineering talent, driven by Green and led by Richard Noble, who both set the current record (763 mph) in 1997 with Thrust SSC, the first through the sound barrier on land.

The Bloodhound Supersonic Car, when travelling at 1,000 miles per hour, will cover four and a half football pitches in one second, a mile in 3.6 seconds and its own car length in less than three-hundredths of a second.

As an international educational initiative, Bloodhound also has a dedicated education team who have built up a wide range of free curriculum resources and teaching activities for schools and colleges. To date, over 5,300 UK primary and secondary schools have registered with the Project’s education programme, equating to over two million children.

CDP has also become an SME sponsor of the initiative as it believes that it is vital to inspire young people to become the scientists and engineers of the future.

The fundamental mission of the project is to confront and overcome challenges that at first seem impossible using science, technology and engineering, and to share the project journey with young people in schools and universities around the UK.

CDP is on board to support Bloodhound as an SME sponsor, but will also be actively involved in a number of planned projects as part of the engineering and design of the supersonic car. The consortium of partners and sponsors include major companies such as Lockheed Martin and Cosworth, as well as the Royal Air Force, Army and several UK universities.

Mike Beadman, director, Cambridge Design Partnership, said: “We were keen to get on board and support Bloodhound, as we knew CDP could offer specialist design and engineering skills that could play a part in the project.”

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