Blackbird (land yacht)

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Blackbird traveling downwind faster than the wind, as shown by the streamers on the vehicle and the flag on the ground, pointing in opposite directions.
Blackbird with fairings to improve performance.

Blackbird is an experimental land yacht, built by Rick Cavallaro and John Borton of Sportvision, sponsored by Google and Joby Energy in association with the San Jose State University aeronautics department to demonstrate that it is possible to sail directly downwind faster than the wind. In a test supervised and recognized by the North American Land Sailing Association in July 2010, Cavallaro achieved a speed of 27.7 mph (44.6 km/h) in 10 mph (16 km/h) winds: almost three times the speed of the wind.[1][2][3][4]

History[edit]

In 2006, following a viral internet debate started by Rick Cavallaro as a brain teaser,[n 1][1] a propeller-driven land yacht was built and filmed, demonstrating that it is possible to sail 'dead' downwind faster than the wind by the power of the available wind only.[5]

In 2009, professor Drela of MIT worked out the equations for such a device[6] and concluded that one could be built "without too much difficulty".[7] Other researchers arrived at similar conclusions.[8]

In the same year, after being challenged that the video was a hoax, team members Rick Cavallaro and John Borton of Sportvision, sponsored by Google and in association with the San Jose State University aeronautics department, built a test vehicle nicknamed Blackbird. A year later, in 2010, Cavallaro successfully tested the vehicle, achieving more than 2 times the speed of wind,[1] definitively demonstrating that it is possible to build a vehicle which can achieve the claim.[9][3] A second test with an improved vehicle in 2011 reached close to 3 times the speed of wind.[4]

After proposing the vehicle's design, and presenting the analysis to demonstrate its viability, the Blackbird team learned that others had previously conceived and built similar designs - most notably aerodynamics engineer Andrew B. Bauer, later with the Douglas Aircraft Company, built and demonstrated such a vehicle in 1969, based on an analysis presented in a student's paper from some 20 years earlier.[10][11]

Bauer observed "a rearward deflection of a foot-long tuft located about 12 feet forward of the propeller plane" thus conclusively demonstrating that his vehicle went faster than the wind (that is, Bauer observed that a streamer located well forward of the propeller was deflected backwards by the apparent wind, meaning that the vehicle was going faster than the real wind). There are no known independent verification to Bauer's claims, although there are several sources of engineering and scientific articles, explaining the theory and physics of such a device.[7][12] Besides still photography, a film has been found showing it in operation.[13]

Explanation[edit]

Rotor-powered vehicles, like Blackbird, have a drive linkage between the rotor and the wheels. Gaunaa, et al. describe the physics of rotor-powered vehicles. They describe two cases, one from the vantage point of the earth and the other from the vantage point of the air stream and come to the same conclusions from both frames of reference. They conclude that (apart from forces that resist forward motion):[14]

  • There is no theoretical upper limit to how fast a rotor-driven craft can go directly upwind.
  • Likewise, there is no theoretical upper limit to how fast a rotor-driven craft can go directly downwind.

These conclusions hold both for land and water craft.

Required for wind-powered vehicle (or water craft) motion are:[14]

  • Two masses moving with respect to each other, e.g. the air (as wind) and the earth (land or water) to provide kinetic energy.
  • The ability to change the velocity of either mass with a propellor or a wheel to convert the kinetic energy of the two masses into that of the vehicle.

Depending on one's frame of reference, the description of how the available kinetic energy powers the vehicle differs: As seen from the earth's surface, the propellor decelerates the air to accelerate the earth imperceptibly with the wheels or as seen from the air stream, the wheels imperceptibly decelerate the earth to accelerate the air with the propellor.[14]

Achievements[edit]

On 7 and 8 March 2010, the team reported testing their vehicle on a motor-driven moving belt (treadmill), showing that it would advance against the belt, which means that it can progress dead downwind faster than the wind.

On 24 March 2010, the team ran the vehicle on the Ivanpah dry lake bed south of Las Vegas, Nevada, showing that it could accelerate dead downwind from a standstill and reach velocities well in excess of wind speed.[9][15][16] That is, the vehicle was progressing dead downwind faster than the wind. Officials of the North American Land Sailing Association (NALSA) were in attendance and one NALSA Board of Directors member (Bob Dill) was there for every run and collected his own rough wind and GPS data.[17] This was not a NALSA-sanctioned event but was presented as a demonstration to the NALSA Board of Directors that the vehicle was capable of progressing dead downwind faster than the wind. Subsequently, the team worked out the details with NALSA for rules and instrumentation related to an upcoming official NALSA ratified test and record.

On July 2, 2010, Blackbird set the world's first certified record for going directly downwind, faster than the wind, using only power from the available wind during its run. The yacht achieved a dead downwind speed of about 2.8 times the speed of the wind.[18][19]

On June 16, 2012, Blackbird set the world's first certified record for going directly upwind, without tacking, using only power from the wind. The yacht achieved a dead upwind speed of about 2.1 times the speed of the wind.[18]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Rick Cavallaro (August 27, 2010). "A Long, Strange, Trip Downwind Faster Than the Wind". Wired. Retrieved 2010-09-14.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Rick Cavallaro (August 27, 2010). "A Long, Strange, Trip Downwind Faster Than the Wind". Wired. Retrieved 2010-09-14. - Explanation of the Blackbird workings and its physics.
  2. ^ Cort, Adam (April 5, 2010). "Running Faster than the Wind". sailmagazine.com. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Barry, Keith (June 2, 2010). "Wind Powered Car Travels Downwind Faster Than The Wind". wired.com. Retrieved July 1, 2010.
  4. ^ a b Adam Fischer (February 28, 2011). "One Man's Quest to Outrace Wind". Wired. Retrieved 2012-07-03.
  5. ^ Goodman, Jack (January 2006). "Down wind faster than the wind" (PDF). Catalyst. Journal of the Amateur Yacht Research Society. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-11-22. Retrieved 2010-09-21.
  6. ^ Drela, Mark. "DDFTTW Power Analysis" (PDF). Retrieved June 15, 2010.
  7. ^ a b Drela, Mark. "Dead-Downwind Faster Than The Wind (DFTTW) Analysis" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-11-16. Retrieved June 15, 2010.
  8. ^ Gaunaa, Mac; Øye, Stig; Mikkelsen, Robert. "Theory and Design of Flow Driven Vehicles Using Rotors for Energy Conversion"., A lecture about upwind-carts & DDWFTTW-carts at the Technical University of Denmark
  9. ^ a b Cort, Adam (April 5, 2010). "Running Faster than the Wind". sailmagazine.com. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
  10. ^ Bauer, Andrew (1969). "Faster Than The Wind" (PDF). Marina del Rey, California: First AIAA Symposium on Sailing., Picture of Bauer with his cart
  11. ^ "Sad News in the World of DDFTTW". Faster Than The Wind Team. September 14, 2010. Archived from the original on November 10, 2010. Retrieved 2015-01-13..
  12. ^ Gaunaa, Mac; Øye, Stig; Mikkelsen, Robert (2009). "Theory and Design of Flow Driven Vehicles Using Rotors for Energy Conversion". Marseille, France: Proceedings EWEC 2009.
  13. ^ "Andrew Bauer Wind Machine 1969 (no audio)".
  14. ^ a b c Gaunaa, Mac; Øye, Stig; Mikkelsen, Robert (2009), "Theory and Design of Flow Driven Vehicles Using Rotors for Energy Conversion", Proceedings EWEC 2009, Marseille
  15. ^ Boyle, Rebecca (June 2, 2010). "Wind Powered Actually Moves Faster Than Wind Speed, Answering Tricky Physics Question". popsci.com. Retrieved July 1, 2010.
  16. ^ Barry, Keith (July 8, 2010). "Team Goes Downwind 2.5 Times Faster Than the Wind". Wired Magazine. Retrieved August 6, 2010.
  17. ^ "Testing graph". The Faster Than the Wind Team. 18 May 2010. Archived from the original on 7 January 2012.
  18. ^ a b "Direct Upwind and Downwind Record Attempts". NALSA. August 2, 2010. Retrieved August 6, 2010.
  19. ^ Livingston, Kimball (1 August 2010). "A NALSA Record: DDWFTTW". Blue Planet Times. Archived from the original on 15 November 2010.