UWE students help design cockpit for world's fastest car

Issue date: 20 February 2009

Driver Andy Green in the cockpit test rig designed by level 2 Product  Design students World land speed challenger Andy Green, OBE visited the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) on Thursday to try out for the first time a mock-up of the cockpit he will use in his 1000 mph record attempt. The cockpit test rig, designed and built by second-year product design students, will ensure that cockpit components such as chair and controls are in the optimum ergonomic position for the challenge.

UWE is a founder partner of the BLOODHOUND SSC Project led by Richard Noble, a previous world land speed record holder. Product Design Senior Lecturer David Henshall said, “The challenge for the students was to consider the performance and ergonomics of the driver's position for a unique event that will take the driver across ten miles in 85 seconds.

“The test rig means that fine adjustments to the position and relationship of all components can be measured and fed into a computer, ensuring the cockpit functions as it should do at such high speeds.”

Twenty students designed and built the cockpit test rig as part of their design studio class during a five week project. The students formed teams of five and each team was allocated a particular part of the rig to work on - steering, controls, seating and pedals.

Product Design Senior Lecturer Drew Batchelor said, “The students worked in conjunction with the BLOODHOUND SSC team and they have done an exceptional job. After an initial briefing from John Piper (JCB Dieselmax Chief Designer), Andy Green and the BLOODHOUND SSC design team, the student groups then developed concepts in the product design studios. Drawing on ergonomic data and refining their ideas through prototypes, the various individual elements were then assembled to create the test rig unveiled today. Ensuring that all these components worked together to create a cockpit environment that would function safely at 1000 mph was the key challenge for the group.

“Students will benefit hugely from their involvement - working on an exciting high profile project such as BLOODHOUND SSC means they have stretched themselves to produce the best possible results. The teaching team have been impressed by their dedication and the quality of the work which is of a highly professional standard.”

The open source nature of the project means that all of the students' design work can be included in their portfolio, a real bonus when they graduate and start the employment search.

Student Hywel Vaughan said, “It isn't often that you can go home at the end of the day and say that you have worked on a land speed record attempt vehicle. Everything had to be spot on. Andy Green (the driver)'s eye line needed to be dead on the 4 degree mark. Any lower and he wouldn't be able to see over the front of the car, any higher and it could interfere with the aerodynamics. It was an exciting challenge to build a rig that could deliver that level of accuracy.”

Student Katherine White said, “We learnt a lot about how it is to work with clients. It has been a big challenge for us and pushed us all as designers and helped us develop our teamwork skills. I like to believe we also gave a fresh insight to the BLOODHOUND SSC team as new young designers and what we can do, and our work will now be carried forward by the team to create the final cockpit design.”

Driver of the 1,000mph car, Andy Green OBE, said: "There isn't a book to build a car like this and the students can't just look at their dad's car for guidance. The only requirement is to have four wheels. To be faced with a blank sheet of paper is quite frightening. That said, the students at UWE have done incredibly well and its the support of universities such as The University of the West of England that will make BLOODHOUND SSC possible.”

The BLOODHOUND SSC Project was launched at the Science Museum in London in October 2008. Engineers from UWE have already produced a scale model for BLOODHOUND SSC, the car that aims not just to break the current land speed record but to achieve an astounding land speed of 1000 mph. The BLOODHOUND SSC Design team is using the specialist facilities at UWE to help realise the formative stages of the project.

For more information visit the Bloodhound Project website

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