Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

AWS helps Bloodhound attack land speed record

Steve Rogerson
November 26, 2019

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is helping the Bloodhound Project in its ongoing attempts to break the land speed record. UK innovation agency Digital Catapult has built a weather monitoring system using IoT and AWS technology.
The system is being used by the Bloodhound Project during testing ahead of its attempt at a new land speed record. This is the first time this sensor technology has been applied in supporting a high-speed challenge.
IoT remote sensor stations were located every 1km along the 19km race track in the Kalahari Desert to help the Bloodhound team understand how weather patterns are likely to impact the challenge outcome. These battery powered devices can run continuously for a year, and will record wind speed, gust speed, wind direction, temperature, humidity and barometric pressure.
The sensors are wireless and can operate in the desert with very little infrastructure. Data from the sensors will be used during active testing, and will also be collected over a period of months to better understand and predict optimal challenge conditions.
Data from the station sensors are transmitted via LPWAN to a gateway that is connected to AWS IoT Core and visualised on Digital Catapult’s bespoke IoT platform where the Bloodhound team monitors conditions.
By running the platform entirely on the AWS Cloud, Digital Catapult is able to scale up instantly during times of testing where there is high demand, and can scale back when the system is not in use. By using the AWS IoT Core technology the project team can focus on the analysis and real-time application of the data, without having to worry about the backend development, management and security.
The sensors transmit data to radio base stations, known as gateways. These gateways can be over 16km away. The Kalahari deployment uses three battery-powered gateways to provide both range and redundancy. The sensors send their data every two minutes, or when a particular threshold has been breached.
“Digital Catapult is proud to contribute to the Bloodhound team’s record breaking attempt,” said Jeremy Silver, CEO of Digital Catapult. “Our IoT team’s expertise is playing a critical role. The slightest shift in cross winds can affect the car’s stability and every piece of data we can deliver will help optimise the car's performance. This is a really ambitious project and this attempt is a true celebration of British technology, expertise and passion to push past accepted limits.”
Bloodhound made its first run at Hakskeen Pan in the Kalahari Desert under its own power in October 2019. As of November 2019, it had achieved a top speed of 1011km/h.
Digital Catapult pioneered the use and wide-spread rollout of IoT network technologies such as LPWAN in the UK. Its free-to-use LoRaWan test network is the largest in the UK and encompasses over 600 gateways. Digital Catapult has helped over 160 start-ups to develop IoT products and services.
The team is experienced across LPWAN technologies including Sigfox, LoRaWan, NB-IoT and 5G systems. Digital Catapult is working with close to 30 public authorities in the UK and across Europe to underpin smart city efforts through IoT technology choices.