Richard Smith's blog

General Aviation Technology Challenge

August is a busy month for competition fans, what with the Beijing Olympics just wrapping up, the US Open Tennis Championship about to start, numerous motor racing events, such as Formula 1 Grand Prix, and the 2008 General Aviation Technology (GAT) Challenge. OK, so maybe the GAT Challenge isn't quite in the same league as those other competitions, but with US$300,000 up for grabs, it's a serious competition intended to stimulate innovation in the personal air vehicle (PAV) arena.

Beijing 2008 Olympics: Sports Engineering

It's not only the stadiums at the Beijing 2008 Olympics that have received the attention of engineers wielding the latest Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE) analysis software - it's also the sports events themselves.

Beijing 2008 Olympics: Civil Engineering

Prior to the August 8 start date of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, there was already evidence of outstanding performances; not from athletes (their turn will come), but instead from the army of engineers and architects responsible for the design and construction of the Olympic sports venues.

Fluid Games

Need a break from hardcore Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulation? Then consider some free, casual fluid-themed games, such as Plasma Pong and flOw.

Wind Tunnels and CFD

To many observers the rivalry between wind tunnels and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is a zero-sum game - as CFD matures it simply replaces wind tunnels. However, this is far from the truth. Often you'll find wind tunnels and CFD used together in a symbiotic process where one technique fills in knowledge gaps left by the other.

Wave-Powered Boat Crosses Pacific

What do you do after setting world records for the furthest distance traveled by a pedal boat (4660 miles across the Pacific Ocean, from Hawaii to Okinawa) and the fastest Pacific crossing in a solar-powered boat? If you are Kenichi Horie you try to cross the Pacific in a wave-powered boat in pursuit of another world record.

Virtually Real Motor Racing

Not to be outdone by virtual engineering, the latest racing car video games, or more correctly simulators, incorporate exceptionally realistic real-time virtual physics (kinematics and aerodynamics), 3D graphics and even 3D sound. Online racing simulators pit virtual drivers from around the globe in hot pursuit of virtual titles. With all these advances you'd think there's little more that can be done to improve virtual racing - but you'd be wrong. What if you could virtually drive, on a game console, in a Formula 1 (F1) race mimicking the actual live action in the race?

Virtual Engineering is Here

Another day, another personal concept vehicle announcement - this time the ICON A5 from ICON Aircraft. Notice a pattern here? We've seen a surge in personal concept vehicle announcements recently - remember personal air vehicles, flying cars, personal helicopters, personal jetpacks and even personal submarines? Is it a coincidence or are there underlying forces making such vehicles inevitable?

Personal Helicopter Available Now

The GEN H-4 is a device that fulfills the promise of a personal jetpack, although it's technically a helicopter. In fact the GEN H-4 is officially recognized as the world's smallest piloted helicopter and it's available for purchase now.

Bioinspired Engineering

Imagine 3.8 billion years of slow but steady research and development (otherwise known as evolution), covering everything we need to survive and thrive here on Earth, freely available for everyone. You just need to know where and (more importantly) how to look for it, because the evidence of this massive R+D effort is everywhere. The study and exploitation of naturally evolved solutions for engineering systems is variously known as bionics, biomimetics, biomimicry, biognosis, bionical creativity engineering, bioinspired engineering, and maybe others. While there’s no single agreed name, there is consensus on the fact that nature is a great source for engineering inspiration.

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