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3rd party Roadster R&D?

Discussion in 'Roadster' started by chimpanzee, Aug 20, 2008.

  1. chimpanzee

    chimpanzee Member

    Dec 8, 2007
    pasadena, ca
    I'm about to submit a proposal (NSF, DARPA, DoE/Dept of Energy, Fraunhofer Inst, or private funding sources), for an Interdisciplinary Cooperative/Collaborative R&D Inst.

    R&D has basically 2 components:

    1) empirical testing ("Real World Knowledge")
    Auto Racing

    2) analytical approach ("Book Knowledge")
    FEM/Finite Element Model simulation, Monte Carlo method simulation, Genetic Algorithms, etc. Fracture analysis, Materials Science research..Condensed Matter Physics.

    Funding agencies lean on the conservative side, so they want a target application (something "concrete"). So, my pick is Alternative Energy. I have some leads on solutions for a 2-speed transmission (where TM failed, with Xtrac & Magna). Xtrac spent a year of development (S. California Class 1 team, who uses BMW M5 engine & European mfr parts), & finally scored a breakthrough earlier this year. 1st place at the San Felipe 250, followed by a 3rd place (podium) for the Baja 500. Xtrac solved the severe shock load problem (car flies through the air, lands on ground), which is not unlike the shock-load problem that the Roadster had (instantaneous torque curve, for the AC Induction motor). They were playing with torque limiters. I believe they are also using a clutch. Was the Roadster Xtrac tranny clutchless (which contributed to the shock load issue, during gear shifts)?

    I know the VP of Xtrac, Andrew Heard, through my Offroad Racing program.

    BITD Las Vegas 300
    BITD Parker 425: Contingency

    I would need to put in the budget, money for acquiring a Roadster. Given the long lead times (2 yrs), is it realistic to get on the list now? Maybe, a better idea is to lease an EP or VP from TM. Being in S. California (just 2 blocks from Caltech), the EP & VP at their Santa Monica dealership are available (I guess).

    Tesla Roadster
    Tesla Roadster

    I'm a UIUC '84 PhD EE (same dept as Martin, we had the same Masters Thesis advisor), & am a hardware type. Picture of my home-lab below:

    You can see my lab bench, with gel-cell/NiCad/NiMh/LiIon/LiPo batteries & chargers. My hobby is R/C airplanes, where electric has really taken over from "slimers" (nickname for messy fuel A/C). I fly at the Rose Bowl, where I've met A. Cocconi & others (R. Feynman's son-in-law).

    Xtrac would be involved as an R&D partner, as well as that XXX Class 1 team. I have the following racing contacts

    1) Newman-Haas
    via UIUC/Aerospace Eng/Michael Selig who consulted w/N-H for 6 races & got Michael Andretti 3 wins

    2) Formula 1
    SDSU aerospace eng prof, who is the main Academic contact for Formula 1

    3) CORR
    2 Pro 2 teams who are using Xtrac transmissions

    4) UIUC Aerospace Eng Dept
    my dad was prof & Dept Head, & he attended Martin's talk at Loomis Laboratory earlier this year

    5) Caltech Mechanical Eng Dept
    1 of their Mech Eng profs is on leave to Northrop-Grumman, to explore the Aerospace + Alternative-Energy paradigm. Similar to the Aerovironment company, started by famous Caltech aeronautics PhD Paul Macready.

    6) Georgia-Tech & GTRI/Georgia-Tech Research Inst
    my ex grad-school officemate (same generation as Martin), is now Vice President of Georgia-Tech & President of GTRI (Problem. Solved. | Georgia Tech Research Institute). His ex GaTech colleague is now President of Caltech. GTRI is involved with Alternative Energy.

    7) Intel
    a fellow summer '81 intern with Martin, was Andrew Chien. He is a MIT PhD, & ended up a UC San Diego CS Dept. He has moved on to Intel as Director of Research & VP of Corporate Technology. Intel does funding, & is relevant because of the Roadster's "drive by wire", i.e. computer control. Gordon Moore (co-founder of Intel) regularly makes philantrhopic donations to Caltech, so there is an Intel & Caltech connection.

    8) UC San Diego/CALIT2 (Calit2 : California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology)
    Dr. Larry Smarr (computational astrophysicist who founded NCSA @UIUC) moved on to CalIT2 many yrs ago. His CalIT2 ("leveraging Communications Technology, to help the emerging economy of California") is involved with various automotive projects. Calit2 takes on industrial partners, so TM is a candidate.

    9) Dr. Mike M/UT Austin Physics Dept
    He & I are former HS classmates. He's a really smart guy (double math & physics major, Cornell), & UC Santa Barbara PhD. His specialty is fractures, a part of Condensed Matter Physics. He would probably jump at the opportunity to play with some real-world data (broken gear boxes). We're talking Materials Science Research (making tranny parts more robust), to handle shock loads.

    The above could also be R&D partners.

    I need some feedback from TMC. Mainly, about a timely method to obtain a Roadster for development work. Maybe someone would forego their position, & let us have one? Probably, a lease of an EP or VP is the way to go. There are some technical savvy people on TMC (incl lawyers, engineers, business people), so these people would be potential hirees for this R&D Institute. Click thru my sig, to email me if interested. I already made some significant contacts at the recent SIGGRAPH 2008 conference, the Fraunhofer Inst guy sounds really good (VW, BMW, Daimler-Benz would be clients)

    I'm in the last phase of idea finalization. Once that is completed, a proposal can be written with budget for R&D partners, lawyers, business-people, etc. The fact that TM hasn't implemented an R&D program (which would have "covered" them, for that engineering crisis that materialized..involving tranny breakage), gives my Needs/Solutions model that much credence. Right now, JD Straubel is under the gun (see recent article, where he & his engineers are scrambling to do development), it would be better to offload it to a team of people/specialists (3rd party R&D outfit) to handle the R&D. It's what GM did, by contracting Aerovironment (where A. Cocconi did his pivotal work) to do motor development on the EV1.

    I was just thinking that an ideal situation for Martin, is to do what Carroll Shelby did with Ford. Do aftermarket special vehicle development. This would obviously tie into my plans for an Alternative Energy based R&D Inst., since it would involve 3rd party R&D on the Roadster. The techy clients obviously want the latest/greatest tech gadgets, enhancements, performance add-ons, etc. I could see Martin "playing" (not working), in this niche-market. It would separate him from TM (because of politics), but still let him do the Roadster thing. There is a huge fanbase for Martin, which would almost guarantee business-success. I'm sure he has great/creative ideas for Roadster aftermarket. When I knew him as a 20 yr old 25 odd yrs ago, he was tooling around in a black '67 (?) Mustang. He has always been a sports car fanatic.

    I met Carroll Shelby at the 2006 Long Beach GP:

    Long Beach Grand Prix

    No pictures of him, but you might notice Phil Hill (American F1 champion). There's Chris Pook, who put on the 1st Formula 1 race in Long Beach. He later headed CART, which went bankrupt & came back as Champcar.

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