With the original Project Mechatronics site in conjunction with Electronic Products (a Hearst Business Media property), we started with media wiki and blog, and have since updated into a cleaner and easier to nav site. The area of mechatronics is not new, but modern control theory through innovative mechanics and increasingly powerful silicon makes this topic particularly interesting, and is growing fast. So the new site reflects our commitment to bringing more in-depth coverage, information, news, commentary, video and more to the domain.
And on the topic of mechatronics, while watching the F1 BMW Sauber team and driver Robert Kubica pick up a win in Canada, I thought there was not a more visible and often incredible demonstration of cutting edge mechatronics. With a 19,000 rpm 2.8L engine putting out almost 900hp and the car weighing under 1500lbs, thats just the start. Under heavy braking periods, a driver is subjected to a horizontal deceleration of close to 5.4G with carbon fiber brakes heating up to over 1000 degrees C. The cars are auto-tuned during the race remotely and there are a heap of other software innovations to squeeze every last bit of performance out of the mechanics.
And while a wind tunnel is critical for testing, CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) has been in place since the 90’s. A quote from F1 Tech sums it up.
“CFD is widely used in the aerospace industry, but geometries are comparatively simple. In its detailed geometry, Formula One is regarded as the cutting edge with its wings, complex bodywork, cooling arrangements, engine bay and last but not least very complex geometry inside the wheels.”
The quick turns in car testing and design, make the use of CFD most applicable. The ability to modify a 3D model of the car or part, run a virtual wind tunnel, and analyze data within a day is key for the race teams. The interesting wings, and other body tweaks you’ll see on the cars is evident of constant testing and innovation.
Its a punishing sport, one where the driver must be in top condition to withstand the constant high G forces, and navigate around tracks where speeds top 200mph and then back down within seconds.
All in all, one of the more exciting demonstrations of mechatronics.