The sheer number of pieces is just mind boggling. And for a race car of any stripe everything has to be right for there to be a chance of being near the top at the end. In my mind, this is the hardest part of racing. A driver can only make so many mistakes, but for a mechanic the possibilities are almost endless. Think about that the next time you see a race car finish a race. No matter what place the car finishes it is a triumph. It is a triumph of a small group of people against infinite possibilities to screw the pooch.
Business travel can push a person out of his or her “comfort zone” and temporarily trash a carefully established, healthy routine—which, for many of us, includes exercise workouts. Hitting the road for a paycheck, however, does not mean your painstakingly achieved fitness has to decline significantly—and, maybe not at all. I speak from experience.
In November 2012 I returned home from what would be my ultimate business trip: a two-month, maritime-security job on the Indian Ocean. I came back in perhaps slightly better shape than when I left, too. I had swapped my normal, twice- or thrice-weekly workout routine—kettle bells, calisthenics, and Nordic Track at home; dumbbells and weight machines at a local gym—for an improvised, shipboard routine. I used minimal personal gear and a variety of metal fixtures on the lifeboat deck and navigation deck of the Asian-flagged cargo ship I helped guard against Somali pirates.
Helicopters are spendy. Like, burns 30 gallons per hour of Jet A, a $4.25 a gallon spendy. Don’t forget the pilot, who doesn’t come cheap. Not to mention aircraft maintenance costs. When your aircraft flies based solely on a deal made with Beelzebub, you don’t skimp when it comes time to pay the bill. The Prince of Darkness isn’t a fan past due notes.
Motorsports has been undergoing a revolution in coverage with the development of remote control camera platforms. As broadcasters balked at the cost of renting traditional rotorcraft camera platforms, the RC operators stepped in and filled the gap. Providing not only a closer look at the action, but doing so cheaper, and safer than traditional options. We’re not quite to the point where an RC camera platform can track a car as well as a helicopter, but it is on the horizon.
But while all of that is cool, what really impresses me about this technology is that it is essentially grass roots. This has all been driven by enthusiasts building in there garages and basements on weekends. They have been solving really complex problems like multirotor harmonic balancing because one night while sitting in front of a TV they thought, “somebody should make a…” A few minutes, or hours, or days later they realized that they were somebody, and it was time to get to work. Hours later, after teaching themselves fabrication, materials sciences, and mechanical engineering, multicopters were born, and a new facet to the broadcast industry was discovered.
A while ago Eric posted some video of the Isle of Mann TT. Irish Road Racing is in the same spirit of racing on closed public roads -and all the risk that entails- except instead of racing the clock, riders are racing an entire field of people whose idea of risk management is just as skewed.
It’s a throwback to an era when almost all racing took place on public roads. Sane people have since moved onto purpose built tracks, but there are still a few willing take the same risk as the old timers. Just take a second to think about what kind of focus and determination it takes to drive anything like that knowing that the wrong move at the wrong time, and you’re a grease stain.
Understanding the broad stokes of current electric hybrid Kinetic Energy Regeneration Systems (KERS) is pretty straight forward. They are electrical motors that augment gas engines. Electrical motors become generators when use for braking; they recapture kinetic energy.
The engineers at Flybrid Systems are taking a less traveled road. They are storing energy by spinning a flywheel at just shy of the speed of light.
The system captures energy from the drive train when the driver lets off the gas. Instead of friction brakes clamping down on the spinning disc rotor, that torque is used to accelerate the flywheel. That kinetic is stored in the spinning flywheel, to be released back into the drive train when you hit the throttle.
As torque is delivered back to the drive train the flywheel slows down. When the driver slows, the kinetic energy is used to spin the flywheel faster, adding drag to the drive train that feels like braking.
Right now mechanical KERS it’s used mostly in racing cars (but not Formula 1 which uses electrical energy storage) but it has been deployed to some capital vehicles like buses and garbage trucks.
One massive advantage to mechanical hybrid systems is that you can retro-fit existing vehicles without redesigning them from the ground up; it’s a sort of bolt-on solution. From a conservation perspective it is far preferable to increase the efficiency of existing vehicles rather than consuming additional resources necessary to build another vehicle from the ground up, so cheers to you, Flybrid.