Making IndyCars Cooler Through Technology
IndyCar races aren’t once they once were, at least when it comes to popularity.
Yes, that may be an opinion, but it is also borne out by some numbers aggregated by Statista. In Spring 2009 there were 13.14-million viewers of the races on broadcast TV. By Spring 2014, that number was down to 9.06-million.
However, thanks to the designers and engineers at Honda and Chevrolet, that may change.
They have created aero kits for the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series that are, in a word, bad-ass.
Just look at this:
Honda Performance Development utilized Driver-In-Loop simulators to determine the direction of the development prior to creating full-size components for the Dallara Indy car chassis.
Then they built pieces that were tested in full-scale wind tunnel. Then they moved on to proof-of-concept correlation of actual tests on tracks conducted along with the Andretti Autosport team.
In all, there are approximately 200 pieces in the Honda kit.
Similarly, the people at Chevrolet Performance Vehicles and Motorsports undertook a rigorous development process for its composites-based aero packages.
This was a nine-step process:
1. Perform baseline analysis of the DW12 car aerodynamics
2. Establish goals for things like downforce, drag and engine performance
3. Develop design concepts with computer-aided design (CAD)
4. Analyze structural properties with finite-element analysis (FEA)
5. Simulate aero properties with computational fluid dynamics (CFD)
6. Produce test parts (including 3D printing)
7. Conduct tests of 50% model in rolling-road wind tunnel
8. Conduct tests of full-scale model in rolling-road wind tunnel
9. Conduct track testing (including Homestead-Miami Speedway, Circuit of the Americas, Texas Motor Speedway, and Phoenix International Raceway) with prototype aero kit.
Two points about this:
1. Clearly, Honda and Chevy are serious about IndyCar racing given the time, effort, energy, and investments they’ve made for these aero kits
2. Clearly, these kits make the cars look a whole lot more fierce, which has to attract more attention to the series.
According to the folks at Sculpteo, a 3d printing and engineering services company based outside of Paris, they built what they describe as “the first ever fully functional bike created using digital manufacturing.” To prove that this is a real bike, not a booth exhibit, the two designers of the bike, Alexandre d’Orsetti and Piotr Widelka, rode it from Las Vegas, where it had been on display at CES, to San Francisco, where Sculpteo has a facility.
General Motors is working with Autodesk on utilizing advanced design software and 3D printing capabilities to develop parts that are not only lighter than those otherwise developed, but which combine what would otherwise be separate parts, thereby reducing manufacturing complexity.
GM’s head of global manufacturing engineering talks about how a global team put mask production capacity on the floor in a week