Michael Waltrip Throttles Up a Digital Simulation Edge
Michael Waltrip Racing's secret weapon coming off of its competitive NASCAR racing season is the combination of CD-adapco's Star-CCM+ CFD tools and wind tunnel testing. (Source: Michael Waltrip Racing)
Beth, right after the SIM Center moved from Mississippi State to UT Chattanooga, the Center arranged an open house for engineers interested in learning more about CFD. I went. The prospect of combining fluid dynamics with CAE really fascinated me. I was blown away by the capability of the software and the modeling techniques. The first demonstration used a tractor/trailer combination and modeling air flow around the cab and trailer at various speeds. The second model demonstrated air flow around an F- 18 Hornet and how that air flow varied when airfoil surfaces came into play. The graphics were absolutely stunning. One thing I came away with was the close correlration between model and reality. In the "old days", reality was hard to come by due to issues with the mathematical algorithm. An approximation within 25% was considered to be "state-of-the-art". Times have really changed.
Thanks for the added detail, Bob. You're absolutely right about the challenge of modeling to reality, however. While your 25% percent approximation figure has been greatly improved with the latest technology, it's still one of the challenges around CFD and simulation in general.
NASCAR is one of the most interesting "playgrounds" for engineering and cutting edge tools. Before I became a NASCAR fan, I thought they just got a showroom car and put a huge motor in it. Oh no, so much more! Design of roll cages and frames for driver safety, spring rates and shock response under varying conditions, engine building and tuning, aerodynamics. etc. F1 racing seems to have more electronic control over various parameters while the car is on the racetrack, while also using engineering applications in the design and test phases. A lot of engineers have found their "happy place" in the world of motorsports.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.