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How University R & D Labs Support McLaren Rap


When McLaren Racing teammates Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris finished first and second at the Italian Grand Prix in September, the gap between them was very small, 1.747 seconds. Had either run just a few seconds slower on Formula 1’s fastest track, Monza, they would have fallen off the winner’s podium and were in the middle of the pack. That’s why the F1 team spends tens of millions of dollars a year adjusting car aerodynamics, fuel burning, and telemetry to pursue an edge equivalent to one-hundredth of a second per lap.

But with all 10 teams on the grid for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah on December 5, it’s the fastest street circuit ever, with an estimated average speed of 252 kmh (156 mph). Only McLaren owns homegrown. advantage. In 2018, the team signed a five-year research partnership with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). This is equivalent to MIT in Saudi Arabia and is intended to treat the vehicle as a living laboratory. Instead, KAUST students and faculty will leverage their software, sensor, and chemistry expertise to tackle the unique task of navigating the corners and straight lines of Jeddah’s Cornish a few seconds faster than anyone else.

“Why is an F1 car faster around the truck than a Grand Prix motorcycle that can reach 300km / h?” Asks Matteo Parsani, assistant professor of applied mathematics and computational science at KAUST. “Aerodynamics. Manipulating the air around the vehicle is F1’s biggest differentiator.” For example, increasing downforce allows drivers to make faster corner turns. This is useful on a 27-turn course.

Traditionally, teams have turned to wind tunnel testing, which is expensive and time consuming. Nowadays, F1 employs computational fluid dynamics (CFD). It leverages supercomputing level processing power to massively simulate and optimize airflow over the surface. However, brute force has only taken over the team so far. The huge regulation of this sport includes a strict upper limit on the number of CPU hours that can be used. This means that the most sophisticated algorithms will win the day. To that end, Parsani of KAUST’s Extreme Computing Research Center and his colleagues licensed McLaren for exclusive use of the state-of-the-art solver. This succeeds if off-the-shelf tools fail to accurately model eddy. The driver’s worries.

“Ambitious journey”

Aerodynamics is just one division of the partnership’s ambitious agenda. It extends from on-track performance to supporting McLaren’s decade-long commitment to carbon neutrality and supporting STEM education. “KAUST’s world-class R & D facilities, faculty leaders, and the desire to combine emerging technologies with sustainability initiatives continue to support our team’s ambitious journey,” said McLaren Racing’s research and innovation. Director Mark Burnett said.

However, it was the fuel issue that originally attracted the team to KAUST. As Formula 1 regulates the number of teraflops a team can use, each car will be allocated up to 110 kilograms (29.06 gallons) of fuel. This means that the team should strive to extract all the nodules from every drop. This will vary from race to race, depending on the course and conditions. “By providing McLaren with candidate formulations and tools, we help McLaren determine optimal fuel combustion,” said Manisaracy, Associate Director of KAUST’s Clean Combustion Research Center. Just as Parsani’s group used simulation instead of wind tunnel, Sarasy’s team uses machine learning to identify candidate field tests.

One of the areas where KAUST has contributed outside the lab is sensors. With the advent of real-time telemetry in the 1980s, F1 has changed completely. This is because the proliferation of new data has spurred almost all optimizations. Today’s cars are adorned with hundreds of sensors that send gigabytes of data about speed, airflow, engine temperature, brakes, exhaust and more. The weight of these sensors will increase quickly, but teams will be encouraged to look for yet another tiny edge when replacing sensors made of ultra-lightweight materials.

As part of that effort, a team of KAUST students was dispatched to observe McLaren Racing at the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix. Altynay Kaidarova, a PhD student in electrical and computer engineering, sees the team meticulously preparing for practice laps, with extreme G forces and internal temperatures reaching hundreds of degrees Celsius. I directly saw the incredible stress on the car. Returning to KAUST, under the supervision of his boss, Professor Jürgen Kosel, Kaidarowa embarked on “developing customized sensors using state-of-the-art manufacturing technology.”

The material she chose was graphene. This is a sheet of pure carbon with an atomic thickness that is 100 times stronger (and lighter) than steel and is about as difficult and expensive to forge. Kaidarova’s solution was to print them in 3D. This created a process that adapted a sensor designed by a colleague to measure strain, airflow, and inertia so that it could withstand the extreme environments faced by F1 cars both inside and outside. “Our aim is to incorporate graphene-enhanced wireless sensors to simultaneously obtain parameters such as force, pressure, and temperature from multiple points around the car,” she says.

Technology beyond trucks

As Kaidarova first noticed, these sensors are used far beyond trucks. Just as McLaren Racing spun out McLaren Applied and adopted R & D in other industries, KAUST faculty are eager to work with the team to pay dividends both inside and outside the classroom. Sarathy’s group has worked with Hyundai to design a more fuel efficient engine, and Parsani’s CFD solver is powered by NASA. Kaidarova has installed graphene sensors on marine animals to provide data on both animal behavior and a range of extended environmental conditions related to marine ecosystem health in the oceanography of Valencia, Europe’s largest aquarium complex. Provided.

But first, their contributions must prove themselves on the winding roads of Jeddah — and McLaren hopes it may prove a margin of victory. As Parsani sees, Formula 1 is the ultimate crucible for KAUST and other engineering colleges. “Students are exposed to real industrial projects in the real environment,” he says. “It’s to see our research begin as a pen and paper, evolve into an algorithm, and finally apply to one of the most complex devices humanity has ever made. This is a unique opportunity. “

You can’t ask for a better classroom than Formula 1 track. The final exam is Sunday.




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