March 2013

The April issue of (mt), the SNAME house magazine, will feature an article by Dr. Wayne Neu, professor of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering at Virginia Tech. Dr. Neu updated the classic 1950's Gabrielli - von Karman plot using more recent vehicle data collected by the students in one of his classes.

 

The Gabrielli - von Karman plot is one of those devices that allows one to think in terms of the real big picture. In essence, it plots vehicle drag over lift against vehicle speed. It is a cornucopia of transportation devices and allows one to compare one mode of transportation against another as far as basic efficiencies at various speeds is concerned.

 

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Rik van Hemmen's picture
Thursday, March 21st, 2013

The Greatest Show on Earth

Boat shows tend to depress me. It is important to stay up with the latest trends, but most boat shows focus so heavily on consumer products that it is difficult to extract real joy from them. My friend and fellow boat lover Captain Dannie Schade, owner of Classic Boat Rides, convinced me and our wives to take a roadtrip to Portland ME last weekend to attend the Maine Boatbuilders Show.

 

This is the show for real boat lovers. If you ever feel jaded or depressed about the looks and quality of today's boats, even a few minutes at this show proves that all is well in boatland. Great people, great boats, great setting, great food, great innovations and pure joy. I'll let the pictures tell the story.

 

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In the Maxi Taxi 1 blog we introduced the Maxi Taxi concept as a thought experiment to explore how people transportation can be made to be more efficient by whole system design.

 

The Maxi Taxi is a passenger transportation concept that, through standardization, aims to rapidly increase system efficiencies. System efficiencies are different from component efficiencies and potentially have much more powerful payoffs.

 

The Federal Government aims to increase efficiencies of cars by about 100% in the foreseeable future. That is a very laudable goal, but, if that goal is achieved, we will not know how much less fuel we will burn because we are not working to an underlying standard or restriction.

 

Therefore, once the greater fuel efficiencies are achieved, it could very well occur that, due to strongly reduced fuel operational costs, customers can afford to purchase larger cars, which then, in turn, end up burning more fuel and which then results in reduced system efficiency gains.

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A disaster like the Costa Concordia opens a wide variety of investigations and undoubtedly many people are very busy in analyzing what caused the vessel to strike the reef and to capsize, but striking reefs and capsizing actually is nothing new and, on a technical level, actually is pretty well understood.

 

What is much more interesting is to place oneself in the Master’s mind immediately after the Costa Concordia struck the rock. From a technical point of view, this is the interesting part of a disaster, and where proper analysis and training can make a real difference.

 

Undoubtedly, it is necessary to avoid disasters. But since disasters will always happen, an even more important goal is to figure out what to do once you are in the middle of the disaster.

 

What really is a disaster? A disaster is an undesirable condition, but maybe it is better to define a disaster as a condition where the manager can no longer figure out what to do to get control of the condition.

 

This is an important consideration, because this definition shows that one person’s disaster is not necessarily another person’s disaster.

Which brings us to John Boyd. John Boys is one of the most amazing characters of the second half of the 20th century that nobody has heard off. Here I will only discuss one aspect of his accomplishments. John Boyd was an amazing fighter pilot, but instead of riding the mystique of the right stuff, John Boyd managed to figure out what the right stuff is and developed a fighter pilot training method to teach the right stuff. He called it the OODA loop.

 

It stands for Observe, Orientate, Decide and Act, and then do it all over again right away.

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We call this peculiar car a Maxi Taxi. Maxi Taxis are just a concept that was turned into this computer model by our intern Zach Davis (Harry Ottaway's grandson!), but they are an interesting concept and have features that are pretty much available today.

 

containerization efficiency

The Maxi Taxi concept rests on the success of containerization and maybe a Maxi Taxi can be described as a people container. It is designed to hold seven people, and its goal is to transport people much more efficiently than we do today.

 

The car itself takes advantage of very rapidly emerging technologies such as battery/hybrid/fuel cell power, automated driving, ubiquitous web presence and GM’s Hy-Wire platform concept. These concepts are pretty much road ready, but are looking for an introductory application where they can be fully integrated into the transportation system. We are all interested in these concepts, but to properly introduce them in the most optimized fashion is very difficult because it needs to displace existing technologies.

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