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Product Update

The Fastest Sensors on Four Wheels: GSC & The Bloodhound Project

The fastest sensors on four wheels: GSC & the Bloodhound project

The race to accomplish a new land speed record in the Bloodhound Super Sonic Car (SSC) is progressing at a rapid pace. Over 400 engineers have dedicated months to the project in an attempt to design the fastest car in history. Travelling at a speed of 1,000mph is a risky operation, where driver and vehicle safety is vital to achieving a successful run. In amongst the precision engineered components sourced from aviation, defence and motorsport industries, sits over 501 measurement and control sensors fitted for performance and pressure testing.

19 of these specifically selected sensors are supplied by Gill Sensors & Controls (GSC) for liquid level and position sensing. GSC’s products have been chosen due to its reputation for unrivalled reliability and high accuracy performance and will supply sensors to monitor some of the major operating functions of the supersonic car. The sensors will be used to ensure that the car is operating as expected to the safety standards required.

The 7.5 tonne car will feature over 12 of GSC’s non-contact position sensors to measure suspension deflection, brake stand-off, the front and rear winglets, air brake door angle and perhaps more importantly brake and acceleration pedal measurement.

Braking at 1,000mph

GSC have supplied two 20mm position sensors as part of the fly-by-wire system to send electronic signals to the main vehicle computer, with data readings of the exact position of the brake and acceleration pedals. When Wing Commander Andy Green depresses the accelerator and brake pedals the 20mm sensor will start streaming the data to start and slow the cars in its attempt at breaking the 1,000mph barrier. The small 20mm configurable measurement zone of the sensor is ideal to fit within the limited space available within the car’s foot-well.

The installation of the sensors are extremely important to ensuring the safe return of the car, as the wheel brake will not be used by Andy until the car has slowed to 200mph. From this point the real-time data provided by the brake pedal sensor will notify the engineering team of the pressure and position of the brakes used to bring the car to a complete stop. If the data reading shows that too much force has been applied to the brake under 200mph, the brakes could overheat and fail, forcing Andy to rely solely on the parachutes and air-brake system to stop the car. “We need a good indication of where the pedal is positioned, therefore the sensors need to be extremely accurate.” states Kevin Murray, Bloodhound Systems Engineer.

Not only does the team have to ensure that the brakes don’t overheat, but also that there is no-contact between the brake pads and the discs. If contact occurs at any point during the run, this will cause a reduction in acceleration, limiting the 5 mile distance that Andy has to bring the car to a complete stop. To ensure there is absolutely no contact between the brake pad and disc, GSC are finalising the specification of a brake stand-off sensor which will provide the team with vital information to guarantee Andy is safe to begin each run.

Stopping the car safely is a complex procedure, one which requires a number of methods. In addition to the wheel brakes, air-brakes and parachutes are required to stop the car after its 1000mph target.

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