Chapter 6 – VR-1 Design Progresses
Wind 6 – Design of the VR-1
*** Executive Staff update after the Modeling/Test meetings ***
Rod woke up before his alarm sounded, his mind working on the meeting with the Monsignor and his staff. He did the usual shower and shave after starting his coffee. He fired up his laptop, checking e-mails and finding one from Miranda, sent after midnight. She had reviewed his notes and the presentation and had valuable inputs, attaching copies of both the meeting minutes and the presentation itself. He poured himself a cup of coffee and opened the files.
Thank goodness I have such a diligent assistant! he thought as he went through her proposed revisions. She had found a few conflicting entries in the minutes from the model teams, which he clarified before saving the documents. She had a few suggestions for the presentation, based on her four years with the Monsignor. Rod sent his revisions back to Miranda and approved her presentation changes, then dressed for the day and headed to the kitchen. Denise had the day off; but her assistant Francesca was there, coffee ready as well as a plate of pastries. A warm sun was already shining through the windows. He glanced at the clock – it was only six-thirty. Plenty of time.
Pete and Rando appeared within minutes of each other, joining Rod on the patio next to the kitchen. ‘So you ready for the day boss?’ Rando asked, clicking his mug against Rod’s.
‘Yeah, pretty much. I’ll have a little more prep to do at the office; but Miranda went through the notes and presentation last night, and I’ve reviewed her inputs this morning. She did a great job, as usual.‘ Rod replied.
‘The lady knows her stuff, that’s for sure.‘ Pete chimed in. ‘I sent her a document to forward to Pedderini from ‘the office’, and she fixed several things before she sent it.‘ he added.
‘We know how you hate spell check Peter.‘ Rando laughed.
‘Oh no, this wasn’t spelling – or even grammar. She found issues with how I presented a few of the points and made some very solid improvements to my verbage.‘ Pete clarified.
‘Yeah, she’s a keeper alright.‘ Rod said. With that he got up from the table, grabbing one last bite of the pull apart Francesca had made for them before heading to get his gear. ‘I’m going to head in early. See you guys at the office.‘
Rod fired up the Swallow, enjoying the throaty thrum of the three-cylinder as it warmed up while he pulled on his gear. When the FI let the idle speed fall to normal he mounted up and retracted the stand, snicking her into gear and rolling down the gravel drive. He decided as he got to the pavement that he was going to take the ‘long cut’ in on this beautiful morning, swinging right onto the road to ride up the hill and around the backside of the MT/Chiatarini property. It only added about ten kilometres to the ride; but it was beautiful, and a great way to clear his head. As usual, there was no other traffic on these roads and he had a little fun on his ride ‘around the block’.
As if it was destiny, he encountered Miranda’s SL as he pulled into the drive at the design center, and waited for her at the parking entrance to the building. ‘Good morning dear lady.‘ he greeted her.
‘And to you sir. Decided to take the long way this morning?‘ she teased.
‘Why yes I did, and a lovely morning it is.‘ Rod replied, holding the door open for her.
‘That it is. Um… did you get my e-mail from last night?‘ she asked.
‘The one you sent at twelve-thirty? Yes I did. I went through the minutes and made some corrections per your inputs, and approved the presentation as modified. Thanks!‘ Rod replied.
‘Great, so we’re ready to publish?‘ she asked.
‘Yes ma’am.‘ he answered with a chuckle.
Inside the building they went their separate ways to get their last minute preparations for the meeting. Rod had nearly finished his tasks when his desk phone chimed. He checked the display then answered. ‘Yes Ms. Chiou?‘
‘The Monsignor’s assistant just told me he needs to move the meeting back thirty minutes, so we’ll be starting at nine-thirty.‘ Miranda told him.
‘Okay, no problem. Thanks for the notice. You going to let the other people know?‘ Rod asked.
‘Gina said she would take care of everyone other than Jan, and I just left him a message.‘ she replied.
‘Okay lady, thanks again. See you in a bit.‘ Rod responded.
Rod headed out into the hallway, noting that both Pete and Rando had arrived. He walked over between their doors. ‘Hey guys, when you both have a few minutes I’d like to give you a briefing about the meeting today.‘ he said, getting acknowledgement from both men. He wouldn’t be asking them to sit through the entire session; but would be expecting them to be available should he need them to answer focussed questions.
Fifteen minutes later they appeared at his door, waiting for his nod before coming in and taking their seats. ‘Ok boys, I’m not going to ask you to spend the better part of your day in my meeting; but I would like you to be available. The Monsignor usually tries to keep these meetings pretty general, with schedule updates, discussions of any issues we’ve come up against, that sort of thing. Once in a while one of the staff will need an answer that would be better coming from one of you, and if that happens I’d like to call on you to make an appearance.‘ Rod told them.
‘Yeah sure boss, not a problem. Any thoughts on what the topics might be?‘ Rando asked.
Rod chuckled. ‘To be honest, no. I have no idea. It could be anything.‘ he said. ‘What I can say is that we’ll be talking about progress to date on the design and modeling projects, and of course the all-important DACS system.‘
‘So they may want details on the model development?‘ Pete asked.
‘Not likely Pete; but it’s possible. I will do my best to answer whatever questions arise, and I think I understand the various aspects of the models to do that; but if there are details I don’t have I’ll be calling.‘ Rod told him. ‘And Rando, because you are the keeper of the schedules it is likely I will need you for an hour or so around lunch time.‘ he added. ‘I’ll give you as much notice as I can man.‘
‘No worries boss. I’ll be up here working on the next round of design reviews.‘ Rando replied.
‘Okay guys, that’s it. Pete, can you hang for a minute, I’d like to get your latest on the model efforts.‘ Rod said. Pete nodded, getting up to get his coffee. Rod got the update he needed, taking a few notes before letting Pete get back to his work. Glancing at the clock he tapped his phone.
‘Yes sir.‘ Miranda’s voice answered.
‘Let’s hookup a few minutes ahead. Are you ready?‘ he asked.
‘Any time boss. Just come by and get me.‘ she replied, ending the call at her end.
Rod put his laptop and notebooks in his case, heading down to the main level to get with his assistant to prepare. One thing he knew the Monsignor wouldn’t tolerate was an ill-prepared leader, and Rod was the same way. Miranda contributed in a big way, as she always picked up every detail. She was already out of her chair and gathering when he poked his head into her office. ‘Let’s do it boss.‘ she said with her usual smile.
‘After you, Ms. Chiou‘ Rod said, waving her past.
Miranda walked past him, then looked over her shoulder. ‘MmmmHmmmm…‘ she winked, then headed for the main conference room with Rod following. The flirting made for enjoyable days in the office, that was certain.
They pulled out their laptops and plugged them into the presentation server. Miranda’s had the meeting presentation, while Rod’s was ready with whatever supporting data and information the staff might want to see. As they prepared, the cafeteria cart rolled in with the usual assortment of refreshments, setting up the buffet along the wall. Shortly after that, and ten minutes early, Jan Kitterman walked in. ‘Morning guys.‘ he said, a bit more casual than usual.
‘Good morning sir.‘ Miranda said.
‘Morning Jan, anything we need to know before we get started?‘ Rod asked, knowing how Jan enjoyed throwing him a curve once in a while.
‘Oh, not this time Rod. But I cannot promise the Monsignor won’t have a surprise or two.‘ Jan replied.
The Monsignor arrived, accompanied by Rialto Pedderini and Carlo Selantini, all three men carrying their cases. Greetings were exchanged, then the doors were closed and the Monsignor called the meeting to order.
Miranda brought up the first slide showing the meeting agenda, which was pretty straightforward. They would cover the two major design projects, powerplant and chassis, followed by the model development efforts. ‘Are there any requests to cover additional aspects, or any of these in particular detail?‘ Rod asked. The three men all shook their heads no, and he nodded to Miranda who quickly moved to the second slide with the PowerPlant schedule information.
‘The right hand column are the original schedule dates. I am pleased to say that we have met each and every date to this point in the schedule.‘ Rod told them. ‘We are presently running the performance simulations, which are in themselves something of a development project, being essentially a software dynomometer which estimates power and torque characteristics from the design output data.‘ he continued.
‘And how is that experiment working?‘ Rialta asked, fascinated by the idea from the outset.
‘One moment and we can see that data sir.‘ Rod said, selecting the appropriate file and finding the correct slide before nodding to Miranda to switch the source to his laptop. The slide now on the screen showed three sets of curves for horsepower and torque. ‘The gray traces are the design targets for horsepower and torque.‘ Rod began. ‘The blue traces are the conventionally derived curves, based on design inputs. And the red traces are the output from the new simulations.‘ he told them.
Jan spoke up. ‘The simulations are lower across the range. Do we know why that is?‘ he asked.
‘Yes.‘ Rod replied, moving to the next slide. ‘The simulator uses not only the design output data – as opposed to the input data – it also uses a prototype of the actual ECU. This table shows the ECU parameters used in the simulation results we just looked at, and the revised parameters we calculated this morning. And this…‘ he continued, moving to the next slide ‘Shows what we expect from the changes.‘ The new slide showed curves much closer to the targets. Rod glanced around the table, waiting for the men to acknowledge the information.
Carlo spoke up ‘It still looks like we’re a bit short of the targets, at least at the peaks. Am I reading that right?‘ he asked.
‘Indeed you are Carlo. That’s why we won’t go to fabrication yet; but we do have more simulations to run before we have the phase 1 design review which is scheduled for two weeks from now.‘ Rod replied.
The Monsignor chimed in ‘That is very impressive indeed Signor Rod. I am very interested to see the results of these new tools.‘
‘Thank you sir; but those tools are an extension of our other modeling and simulation activities, so it makes sense for us to put them into use as early as possible.‘ Rod replied. ‘If there are no other questions, we’ll move on to the chassis project.‘ he said, looking around again.
‘Just one thing before we move on Rod. Will we be able to utilize these simulation tools on other powerplant projects?‘ Rialta Pedderini asked.
‘Absolutely sir, once the tools are developed and proven, they will be applicable to any powerplant design providing that design is initiated using the correct protocols.‘ Rod answered.
Rod nodded to Miranda, who switched the source back and brought up the next slide, which was the schedule excerpt from the Chassis Design project.
‘As with the previous section, the right most column are the original schedule dates, and we are currently on – or ahead of – the original schedule.‘ Rod began. ‘The braking and front suspension designs are complete, with the monocoque and swingarm projects underway and on track.‘ he continued. ‘One major difference with the chassis, as compared with the powerplant, is that we have a separate integration step prior to the review.‘ he looked around the table, getting a quizzical look from Selantini. ‘The reason this step is necessary is the models we must integrate to achieve the final objectives of the project.‘ Rod explained.
Rod went into additional details at the request of the Monsignor before announcing a break to stretch. Everyone got up and made their way to the refreshment buffet again, refilling coffee and water containers and grabbing a snack from the many options. Miranda quickly returned to her office and collected her messages before returning to the conference room. ‘Guys it is nearly lunch time, shall I order us lunch here?‘ she asked.
After a brief discussion it was decided that they would continue the review through the lunch hour, and have the meal brought into the conference room. Miranda made a single call to make that arrangement, then settled back into her seat. Once all the men had resumed their places she prepared for the next discussion and gave Rod a nod.
‘The next topic on the agenda is the model development project, and to begin the discussion I would first like to ask if each of you understands the importance of this project.‘ Rod began.
The Monsignor was the first to respond. ‘The VR-1 will be the first motorcycle to fully utilize a complete and integrated performance model as an integral part of the design.‘ he said concisely.
‘That is correct sir; but it doesn’t go quite far enough.‘ Rod replied. ‘Anyone else?‘ he asked.
Carlo chimed in ‘The models will also be used for the setup of the motorbike for each racing circuit.‘
‘Right again; but we still aren’t quite there.‘ Rod said, looking at the other two men.
Jan Kitterman added ‘The models may be used to manufacture components specific to each racing circuit.‘
‘Okay, we’re getting many of the pieces; but what has generally been missing is the human element.‘ Rod told them, nodding to Miranda who brought up the DACS modeling overview slide. ‘You see what is at the center of the diagram – it is the rider. The rider is very much an integral part of what we are developing, as the fundamental objective of all of this work is to create a machine that is easy to ride for any rider on any track.‘ Rod said. ‘I think it is very important that this remain within our vision.‘ he added.
‘Excellent point, Signor Rod. Thank you for the guidance.‘ the Monsignor said.
Once Rod saw that the men understood that, he was ready to move on and gave Miranda a nod. The next slide was the schedule for the model development project for the current phase.
Rod gave them a chance to absorb the information before proceeding. ‘As with the previous schedules, the right hand column shows the originally scheduled completion dates for each of the tasks. Also as with the other schedules, we have met or exceeded the expectations.‘
‘So we have the preliminary models and are currently performing the second round of tests?‘ Rialta Pedderini asked.
‘Actually sir, we’ve completed that second round of tests. Peter is working on the second round of models as we speak.‘ Rod said. ‘That second round of tests included last weekend’s match race, where we had all ten machines instrumented along with four of the riders.‘ he added.
‘I see. So were the models and simulations used in setting up a motorbike for that race?‘ Carlo asked.
Jan chimed in proudly ‘Yes Carlo. Rod’s team – as I understand it – used the data collected from his practice and qualifying sessions to improve his machine for the race.‘ Rod nodded his agreement.
The Monsignor led a brief round of applause. ‘So you had an advantage over your fellow riders, eh?‘ he chuckled.
‘Yes sir, I believe we did. The most significant advantage was not outright speed, as Sergio was very nearly as quick. Where we had an advantage was consistency, which I credit to my machine being easier to ride as a result of some fine tuning we did based on the simulations and data.‘ Rod explained. ‘As you may have noticed, we had a small problem on our last pit stop which allowed Sergio to gain the lead. I was able to catch him only because I was able run very consistent fast laps, even with traffic.‘ he added. ‘Another aspect was our tire strategy; but Sergio’s team had a similar strategy, just inverted.‘
‘A very strong review of real performance Signor Rod. Very strong indeed.‘ Railta exclaimed.
A knock at the door signaled the arrival of lunch. Miranda opened the door and the cafeteria attendants quickly placed the food atop the credenza, conversing briefly with Miranda in Italian before clearing away the breakfast mess and rolling the cart out the door. ‘Lunch is served.‘ Miranda announced.
The men served themselves from the variety of food presented, Rod choosing the Caesar salad with grilled prawns and some garlic bread while the others heaped their plates with pasta. They talked more about the models and data, in particular how Rod’s team had used them to make incremental improvements in their ‘normal’ bike. It fascinated the executives that this development seemed to be producing the desired results without the complicated machine. Rod – with Jan’s help – explained that this was just the first round of model development. The performance they had observed was very promising; but the real results would not be seen until the VR-1 was on a race track with real competition and multiple riders.
After lunch they continued the Q&A session, with Rod explaining that the test models needed to be ready to incorporate into the second revision of both the powerplant and chassis designs, as it was hoped that would be the final design revision prior to prototype construction. There was much discussion regarding those next steps, and how the executives could enable success, a very encouraging sign for Rod.
The Monsignor adjourned the meeting just after two-thirty that afternoon, thanking Rod for the time and information. He would be reporting the status to the Board of Directors at their next meeting, and asked that Miranda provide him with a summary presentation.
As everyone was leaving, Jan walked up to clap Rod on the back. ‘Brilliant job Rod, absolutely brilliant.‘
Miranda was headed back to her office and caught his eye. ‘Transcribed minutes and my notes will be in your box tonight boss.‘ she told him, adding a smile to make his day. Rod gave her a discrete wink and a nod as they each returned to their own offices.
Rod arrived at his office to find Rando and Pete waiting for him. ‘What’s up boys?‘ he asked.
‘Just wondering how it went. I gather they were okay with how things are going?‘ Rando asked.
‘Oh yeah, stunned is more like it.‘ Rod replied, walking into his office to set down his case.
‘Well boss, it’s Friday and we were wondering if you might be up for a pint in town to start the evening.‘ Pete suggested.
Rod looked up with a smile on his face. ‘You know, that actually sounds great although I think we probably want to take the bikes back to the villa and cage it into town.‘ he responded. ‘Just in case…‘
Rando laughed. ‘Yeah, just in case we decide to have more than one!‘
‘Not to change the subject Pete; but how are those models coming?‘ Rod queried.
Pete grinned, glancing at Rando before he replied. ‘Uh… well that’s kind of why we wanted a little celebration.‘
‘Oh?‘ Rod responded.
‘Yeah… We have very good convergence with the phase 2 models using the race data. I included a couple of test nodes to incorporate the rider data from you and the other three guys, as well as the data from all of the bikes.‘ Pete began, his enthusiasm showing. ‘And the simulator was able to predict your lap times within a tenth.‘ he concluded.
Rando held up his hand. ‘Not only the lap times; but the speed at every point around the track within THREE kph!‘
‘Wow!‘ Rod replied. ‘That’s pretty damned good.‘
‘Yeah, we thought so.‘ Pete said. ‘So beer and calamari at Carla’s by the sea?‘
‘Absolutely.‘ Rod replied. ‘I see no reason not to conclude the office activities at about four, what do you guys think?‘
‘Gimme a sec…‘ Pete said, rushing back to his office to check on a simulation run. He returned a minute later. ‘The run should be complete in about fifteen minutes, so yeah, four is good.‘ he said.
Rod tapped his phone to call his assistant.
‘Miranda Chiou‘ came her response. Obviously she hadn’t looked to see who was calling.
‘Yes Ms. Chiou, this is Signor Ehrlmeir.‘ Rod said with a chuckle.
‘Yes sir?‘ she continued the approach.
‘My colleagues and I will be leaving the office in about twenty minutes, and will be calling an early evening meeting at Carla’s at five pm.‘ Rod told her.
‘I see sir.‘ Miranda replied. ‘Do you require my services at this meeting sir?‘ she asked, he could hear the slight chuckle.
‘I believe your attendance would be beneficial, Ms. Chiou. Kindly join us when you can.‘ Rod said, stifling a laugh.
‘I shall be there by five-thirty sir.‘ Miranda replied, ending the call at her end.
The three men broke out laughing, then went about wrapping up their daily tasks before donning their gear and riding up to the villa to change clothes and hop in the Alpha Romeo. They arrived at the quaint microbrew pub and grill just before five, and took a table for four in the outdoor seating area with a view of the Cosinia harbor.
Miranda arrived on time, joining them after ordering a pint at the bar. ‘So, this feels like a bit of a celebration guys, what’s up?‘ she asked.
‘For one thing we got through the executive staff meeting.‘ Rod began.
‘And for another, Pete had something of a breakthrough on the models and simulation front.‘ Rando added, holding up his mug of brew.
‘Give me a minute and I’ll join in that toast.‘ Miranda said. ‘But you can tell me about the breakthrough while we wait.‘ she added, her genuine interest very obvious.
Pete went through some of the details, explaining how they were significant in the development process. The waitress arrived with Miranda’s beer and the calimari and sauces.
They enjoyed the early evening in the fresh air, watching the clouds in the distance announcing another storm on its way. Two pints was enough, and they wrapped up the evening about seven with Miranda headed home while the three guys drove back to the villa. It would be a working weekend; but that would be fine.
*** Rod and Pete hear Julia’s ideas on chassis sensors ***
The three men were up and around before eight, hooking up in the kitchen for fresh coffee and the usual fruit and pastry platter. The storm had arrived, making the garden a bit damp for socializing so they sat under the cover on the veranda. It was a warm system, and the humid air was somehow refreshing as they talked about the past week’s developments and the next week’s objectives.
‘So Julia and Miranda will be here for lunch?‘ Rando asked.
‘Yes, that’s the plan. Julia seemed pretty excited about her ideas for the chassis sensor design. She seems to have a really good handle on the fundamentals, and we need to give her ideas a listen.‘ Rod replied. ‘Miranda is coming to take notes so we don’t lose anything.‘
‘Well thank God for that, eh?‘ Pete laughed, getting ‘the eye’ from Rod. ‘No, seriously boss. We would all be pretty much lost without that lady.‘
‘And don’t you ever forget that, dude.‘ Rando chimed in.
‘Hey guys, I found something last night I’d like to show you.‘ Pete said, changing the subject. ‘I think it might be something we can use to improve the turnaround time on chassis components.‘ he added, rising to retrieve his laptop.
The three went through some work Pete had done, although Rod wasn’t convinced yet how practical the idea would be. The concept had merits; but there were many concerns about application. Their discussion lasted more than an hour, with Pete taking some notes to followup on his own. Rando took an action to research a detail on CF construction as well.
‘Well gents, I’m going to go freshen up. Julia and Miranda will be here in thirty minutes.‘ Rod told them, heading for his suite. Rando and Pete followed suit. No reason not to be a pleasant meeting companion, after all.
The ladies arrived together, Miranda having swung by Julia’s flat to give her a lift. They popped their umbrellas up, grabbed Julia’s mobile workstation and Miranda’s bag and headed through the gate into the garden and on to the main entry. Thankfully the rain wasn’t coming down too hard, and the area immediately in front of the door was covered. The men were still out back, so Maria, one of the maids, opened the door and invited them inside. After they set their cases down she took their rain jackets to hang them over a mat next to the door, then invited them to follow her.
‘Gentlemen…‘ Maria said politely, escorting the two onto the veranda.
‘Oh hey… this crappy weather and you’re early?‘ Rando chuckled.
‘It’s not that bad Rando; but yeah, we’re early.‘ Miranda replied. ‘Where should we set up?‘ she asked.
‘I brought my mobile design station so I could show everything I’ve found rather than trying to do it with words and figures.‘ Julia told them. ‘If I’m right about it I’ll be able to incorporate the new concepts more quickly as well.‘ she added.
‘Uh… okay, let’s go in the library. There’s a projector in there too.‘ Rod suggested.
They moved into the library and prepared for the session, Julia taking the central location with Rod and Pete on either side. Her design station had a main display that was seventeen inches wide, and two auxiliary displays on either side which pulled out, each twelve inches wide. It was essentially a scaled-down version of her cad workstation in the office, and from the villa she had access to all of the network tools and files via the wireless system. She fired the machine up, waiting until it was ready while plugging in the projector. ‘Okay boss. Let’s roll‘ she suggested.
‘Now Julia, let me just understand first what you’ll be showing us please.‘ Pete requested.
‘Sure Pete. While I was working on the monocoque design I think I discovered something that is a combination of the cross-section of the component and the characteristics of the carbon fibre being used to form the component. The affect is that there was a ‘hot spot’ when running the oscillation sims at a frequency within the normal operating schema. While it was easy enough to correct, with either a small alteration to the cross-section or an equally minor change to the CF matrix, I wanted to find out which method would be best so I designed a software-based tool – call it a sensor – to measure the impact of each change while the oscillator sim was running.‘ Julia explained.
‘And your software sensor is something we might be able to impliment in hardware?‘ Pete queried.
‘Yes, not only can we do it in hardware; but it will give us real time data on the chassis performance that will allow us to improve that performance without redesigning pieces.‘ Julia replied.
‘Well okay then, you have our interest. Let’s see what you found and what you propose.‘ Rod said.
Julia brought up the 3-D chassis CAD tool on the main screen, programming the projector to show that centered on the external screen, then brought up her command line on one side and the simulator on the other.
Pete grinned. ‘I love the way this woman works a computer.‘ he chuckled. Julia looked up briefly and returned his grin.
She went through a thirty-minute demonstration of her findings, showing them what she had called a ‘hot spot’, then the two possible corrective methods, then the ‘sensor’ she had designed, and finally the measurements she had collected. ‘I haven’t nailed down the details of exactly how we impliment the hardware; but I’m pretty confident it’ll work.‘ she said.
‘You can leave that part of it up to us Julia. That is remarkable work, very impressive indeed.‘ Pete said.
‘I agree, excellent work Julia.‘ Rod said. ‘And now I feel like I should apologize for all the work you did to bring this out here.‘ he added.
‘Oh, no problem sir. I’m pleased you agree with my findings, and hope it will add value to the project.‘ Julia responded.
Lunch was more social than business, although Pete’s enthusiasm for Julia’s work was difficult to suppress. He was eager to get back to his computer to begin the challenge of incorporating her proposal into the design, and more importantly into his models. Miranda, as always, kept things light during the conversations. She did manage a few gentle touches under the table, which Rod appreciated. They hadn’t had any time together other than the office in a couple of weeks, and he was looking forward to their day together tomorrow. If the weather was good they would be having a picnic on the beach, perhaps inviting a few others to join them for some volleyball.
After lunch Miranda and Julia departed, leaving the three men to brainstorm a bit on the new possibilities. The ideas flowed freely, with the most interesting being the integration of Julia’s ‘hot spot’ sensor into the closed-loop tuning of the VR-1. Although it would add significant complexity to the model and simulation development, it might just move their advantage up a full notch. If they could incorporate real-time tuning of the suspension and engine components with inputs from the hot-spot sensor it could be a dramatic improvement in performance and reliability of the machine.
‘You think you can get that done?‘ Rod asked.
‘I don’t want to promise anything because this does add a lot of load to the onboard processors; but I think it’s possible. The key will be how we design this sensor to provide compatible data so the processor doesn’t have to do a bunch of math just to use the information.‘ Pete replied. ‘With Rando’s help we might be able to have a prototype sensor set we can put on one of the Swallow test bikes to collect some information.‘
‘Just tell me what you need and I’ll get it for you bro.‘ Rando told him. ‘What kind of sensors are we talking about?‘
‘For test purposes we would want a strain guage and a 3-axis accelerometer to start with.‘ Pete replied. ‘Ultimately we would want to combine them of course.‘
‘Doesn’t sound too tough. Give me footprints and I’ll get you the hardware in a week.‘ Rando responded.
Pete picked up the phone to call Julia, asking that she spend a few minutes going over some details so he could configure the prototype sensors. Fifteen minutes later they were done, and Rando had his footprints thirty minutes after that.
The rain dictated an ‘inside’ day, and the three men spent the remainder of it going through the next two weeks of activities. Rod was going to be doing more track testing, with Anton and Kevin joining in that activity. Pete was hoping for some wet track time, as he had precious little data on the traction-limitted activity. Rod’s schedule was pretty flexible, with only his end-of-the-week staff meeting with Jan and the design team leads holding down a firm calendar spot. He would need to keep tabs on the powerplant and chassis design activities; but that was a matter of the occasional one-on-one conversations with the lead engineers.
They stayed in for a quiet evening, Denise having the day off they fended for themselves in the kitchen which was not a problem. The project was taking on a momentum of its own, with the bright people doing fantastic work and adding very significantly to the machine that would soon become the VR-1. The additions meant more work for all three of them; but the benefits would prove meaningful indeed. The whole model integration process was quickly rising to the top of everyone’s priority list, and Pete was learning as much as he was teaching. The MT designers knew a lot about building racing motorcycles, and were advising Pete every day on how to improve both his models and the simulations that would use them. It was a good time to be a member of the Monsignor’s family at MotoTechnikon.
** Rod and Miranda get a day together – and alone **
Rod woke up at his normal six am without an alarm, showering and shaving before he headed out to get some real coffee to wake up. It was still damp out, although there wasn’t much rain at the moment. It cheered him up to think of spending a day inside with Miranda at her place. Rando joined him a while later, sipping on his steaming coffee. ‘Peter will be a tad late this morning.‘ he said with a quiet chuckle.
‘Yeah?‘ Rod queried. ‘Why is that?‘
‘When I left him – at one-thirty this morning – he was buried in some interesting work on the sims.‘ Rando told him.
‘Excellent, although I do wish the guy would take some time to relax. We’re a bit ahead of schedule.‘ Rod replied.
‘Yeah, he knows that; but we were doing some brainstorming about how we could integrate Julia’s idea into the scheme, and after figuring that one out a light went on in that fat head of his.‘ Rando laughed. ‘He started drawing diagrams on his white board of the whole thing, with these things he called ‘keys’ connecting the major components.‘
‘Keys, huh?‘ Rod wondered what that meant.
‘They’re really a pretty cool idea if he can make it work. The concept is that when the system detects a slip condition (any condition that detracts from performance) it will determine based on the imbedded models which component requires a correction, and make that correction in real time.‘ Rando told him.
‘Sounds rather complicated, and potentially dangerous.‘ Rod responded. ‘But if I know Peter he’ll figure out a clever way to do it without causing too many problems.‘
‘He was talking about somewhere down the line, like the second year or something.‘ Rando added.
Rod’s cell rang and he glanced at it, flipping it open. ‘Hey babe.‘ he answered.
‘It’s YUCKY out!’ Miranda whined, with a slight giggle at the end of it. ‘So when are you coming over?‘
‘How about ten?‘ Rod suggested. ‘Got something in mind?‘ he asked, not really caring what she might be thinking.
‘Ten is good, and you’ll just have to wait until then honey.‘ she replied, using that word for the first time.
‘See you then babe.‘ Rod answered, then ended the call with a smile on his face.
‘Ah yes, your day with the girl. Looks kinda shitty out, so I’d guess the beach isn’t on the agenda, eh?‘ Rando said, disappointed he wouldn’t be invited for some volleyball in the sunshine.
‘Doesn’t look like it; but if things change we’ll give you a call mate.‘ Rod told him, getting up to pour himself another coffee. ‘I don’t know what she has in mind.‘ he added.
‘Probably doesn’t matter though, eh?‘ Rando replied with a chuckle.
Pete joined them just after eight, looking groggy and mumbling about something as heh poured his tall mug of java.
‘Rando says you found another diamond last night.’ Rod said.
‘This morning actually.‘ Pete replied. ‘And it’s more like a diamond mine I think. If we can make it work. I wouldn’t expect we can implement it until the second season though, as it’s going to take a lot of live data to build this model.‘
‘Sounds interesting; but we can’t let it get in the way of things between now and prototype time.‘ Rod said.
‘No worries boss, I have it under control.’ Pete replied. ‘That’s what I did last night, was figure out where we needed to put some new hooks in the existing schedule. I’ll make sure it doesn’t impact the basic stuff.‘
‘I know you will bro.‘ Rod told him, glancing at his watch. ‘I’m going to go get my ass ready to entertain a lady.‘ he added, rising and putting his cup in the sink.
Rod did a final once over and donned a set of comfortable clothes to relax around Miranda’s with the Captain, throwing a suit and some sandals into his bag just in case the weather improved. He gave his friends a thumbs up as he grabbed the keys to one of the pool cars and headed out, his brain unable to focus on anything other than the day ahead.
Rolling up to her cottage, he was rife with anticipation. It was really the first time they’d planned a day together, and he felt like a teenager on a first date with a girl he’d had a crush on. The door opened as he walked up the steps, and Miranda stood there in a very ‘traditional’ looking dress. He let out a low whistle and stopped in his tracks, taking in her lithe form just as that young boy would have done. Then she laughed and took the edges of the dress in her fingers. ‘And just in case the sun comes out…‘ the dress opened to reveal a skimpy bikini underneath.
‘Oh now that’s just not fair babe.‘ Rod laughed. ‘but I like it.‘ he told her, opening the screen door. Then, for the first time, he leaned close and kissed her on the lips. ‘Hi gorgeous.‘ he said.
‘Mmmm… I like that kind sir.‘ Miranda replied, letting her fingers gently caress his neck. ‘Come on in and make yourself comfortable. I’m sure Jean Luc will be along shortly.‘ she added. ‘I figured I would go ahead and make up that picnic basket, and we can have it here if it’s wet.‘ she told him. ‘Hope you don’t mind deli cuts, veggies and dip, and some pasta salad.‘
‘Sounds perfect, either way.‘ Rod told her, watching the firmness of her body as she walked into the kitchen. Damn she’s beautiful he thought.
‘Wine or beer?‘ she asked from the kitchen.
‘A glass of red would be perfect babe.‘ he replied, patting his lap as the Captain arrived to greet him. ‘Hey buddy, come on up and get cozy.‘ he said to his feline friend, running his hand slowly over Captain’s head and down his back.
Miranda returned from the kitchen with a tray of refreshments, a bottle of one of the Monsignor’s fine Syrah’s with two glasses, a smaller tray of crackers and some very pungent cheese. ‘Here we go.‘ she said, setting the tray on the coffee table. She knelt on the floor next to Rod, resting one arm on his leg while the other poured the wine and handed him a glass. She held her glass up and looked into his eyes with a smile. ‘To a long and happy relationship‘ she said with a wink.
‘Long and happy.‘ Rod responded softly, clinking his glass to hers before taking a sip. ‘Mmm.. wonderful.‘ he commented on the wine. Jean Luc purred away in his lap, sniffing at the glass. ‘I don’t think you want any of this sir.‘ Rod told the cat, getting a giggle from Miranda. He looked at her and smiled. ‘What?‘
‘It’s just nice that you and my man-cat get along so well.‘ Miranda replied, giving his knee a squeeze.
Their day proceeded as it had begun, the two of them finding it easy to talk about personal things. The weather never cleared up and they shared the picnic on the porch at the back of her cottage, enjoying the view of the Mediterranean as they discussed how they could have this relationship and work together at the same time. It wouldn’t be easy; but the attraction was simply too mutual and too strong to avoid it. They agreed to keep the interaction on a professional level while in the office, and as discrete as needed when in the company of others. Neither was ready for physical intimacy beyond the occasional touch and many brief kisses, and Rod returned to the villa with a smile on his face just before ten pm.
‘Hey boss.‘ Pete greeted him, his laptop on his lap as usual. ‘Nice day with that babe?‘ he asked.
‘Yep, nice day indeed. Thanks for asking.‘ Rod replied. ‘Anything new around here?‘ he asked., plopping down in one of the many comfortable chairs.
‘Not too much, although I do have some questions for you.‘ Pete replied.
‘Yeah? Like what?‘ Rod replied.
‘The forecast for tomorrow calls for rain. Are you up for some track time?‘ Pete responded.
Rod thought about it for a moment. ‘Absolutely. I know we need to gather some data for the models, and I don’t mind riding in the wet.‘ he replied.
‘Okay, than let’s do it.‘ Pete suggested.
‘You got it bud. I’ll be ready.’ Rod said. ‘But I think it’s a good time to sleep so I’ll be ready to do it.‘ he added, rising and heading for his suite. ‘G’night lad. I’ll see you early enough.‘
Rod was asleep in thirty minutes, and Pete wasn’t far behind.
*** More testing on the instrumented MT Swallow bikes
The guys hooked up in the kitchen as usual, sipping coffee while Denise prepared a quiche to go with the fruit salad and yogurt. The rain had been falling steadily since just after midnight, so the conditions were perfectly suited to the day’s objectives.
‘So do we have a starting point?‘ Rando asked.
‘Yeah, we start exactly where we left off. The purpose of this next session is to collect data from both bike and rider in the wet conditions – without altering anything else.‘ Pete replied concisely.
‘How much data do you need, and do we need other riders?‘ Rod asked.
‘For now I think you are the only rider we need, and fifty laps should be a good start. What I would like to see is your usual MO.‘ Pete said. ‘You know, go out and work up to a good pace then try to be as consistent as you can at that pace.‘
‘I ordered four sets of rains and four inters, and they should be there by the time we get there.‘ Rando reported. ‘And I pinged Glen. He’ll be there with two techs.‘
They savored the fresh quiche, warming their insides in preparation for a morning out in the damp air. It wasn’t terribly cold; but Rod in particular would be out in the elements. He found riding in the rain a productive activity, honing his reflexes with every lap he put in the books. And he learned something every time he went out on a wet track, perhaps the aspect he looked forward to the most. The three men finished their meal and grabbed their gear, heading out to the Alpha for the short trip to the track. Few words were spoken, as each had their own focus for the next few hours.
Arriving at the paddock, they found Glen and one of the techs already busy prepping the machine, having installed a new engine since the match race. One of the crew had put in two dozen break-in laps after the installation, with a quick run on the dyno confirming the health of the new mill. Glen was the first to speak. ‘G’morning guys. Bike is essentially ready. You want inters or full wets?‘ he asked.
‘Let’s go with full wets to start with.‘ Pete responded, pulling out his laptop to prepare the DACS download. Rod was busy pulling on his riding suit, choosing the one with the Gortex shell to repel the water. Rando meanwhile had headed for course control, first to fire up the transponder systems and second to touch base with the track marshall. Even though this was a single-bike test session, the safety management protocols would be followed to the letter. The marshall advised that the light indicators would be utilized for the days track sessions, meaning there would be only a skeleton crew manning the corner stations. Rando returned to the paddock to relay the instructions and information to Rod and the crew.
Rod was in his gear aboard the bike when Rando came in, focussing on the tasks facing him in this session. The bike was ready. The course indicator changed from red to yellow as Rod dismounted, giving the machine first to Pete to download the DACS data and start the ECU before Glen fired up the MT triple for a brief warmup. ‘Let’s get some good data boss. This will be our first chance for the wet track.‘ Pete shouted into Rod’s helmet over the din of the engine. Rod nodded, giving Pete a clap on the shoulder with his gloved hand.
‘Coolant one-four-zero‘ shouted Glen, indicating the bike was ready. Rod threw his leg over the machine and took the grips from his chief, then nodded he was ready. A moment later Rod rode out into the rain-soaked pit lane, easing the bike toward the exit to the course. The light was still yellow; but that was fine for the moment. He would need at least three laps to warm the tires before he could push.
Rod weaved the Swallow left and right to scrub and warm the tires as he wound his way around the course for the first time. The rain wasn’t too bad; but there were a few places on the course where standing water could cause hydroplaning if he wasn’t careful. Fortunately they all seemed to be in slower sections, the bottom of the Vineyard hairpin being the worst of them. He gradually picked up speed after a first flyer of one-fifty flat. The course indicator changed to green after his third flying lap, a one-forty-eight sixty, and he switched his focus to gaining speed until he found a comfortable pace. Four more laps and he was at one-forty-four eighty-five, and it felt good.
Peeling to the left through Paddock on lap eight, the bike drifting at the edge of traction as Rod pulled it back to the right heading up the hill into Rapture. He could sense the ECU battling to keep the power from spinning the rear wheel. On the brakes into the decreasing-radius turn 3 his reflexes caught the front tire just as it began to tuck, and he ran a little wide into turn 4. The bike twitched as both tires made contact with the painted line at the tracks edge; but Rod had anticipated the momentary loss of traction and had the bike in a neutral state just as it happened, using his body to move back onto the pavement at the turn-in point to hit the second apex in 4. Back on the power as they launched onto Beacon. There was a small puddle on his normal line going into the Ess, which mandated that he take a line that went over the bumps. He scrubbed off speed ahead of time and let the bike move under him over those undulations before leaning right for the second part of the Ess curves. Over to the left again and through the Carousel, which gladly had excellent drainage, then over the crest and down the Dive, letting the bike drift all the way to the edge of the track before moving across to the left for the entry to Double-Ups and on to Big Bend and the Center Straight. The HUD read one-hundred ninety-two kph at the exit of Big Bend, peaking at just under two-ninety before he got on the binders to get into Vineyard. A bit of slipping and sliding, a part of his style in adverse conditions, and he crossed the line again. One-forty-four seventy-one.
That was Rod’s target for the rest of the session, and after a total of eighteen laps he had hit that target plus or minus two-tenths on each of the previous ten laps. He slowed on the nineteenth lap and pulled in to the pits, stopping the bike on the marks and giving it over to Glen before dismounting. ‘Phew!‘ he exclaimed after removing his dripping helmet and rain-soaked gloves. ‘Didn’t feel too bad, just exciting as always in the wet.‘ Rod added with a chuckle.
‘Well boss, the previous record for wet conditions on this bike was one-forty-five-ten, so you’re quicker than that in any case.‘ Rando told him.
Pete walked up and downloaded the data to his laptop, hurrying back to his workstation to begin analysis of the data. He knew what he hoped he would find; but his brain wouldn’t allow the preconception. Data was king, always. He tapped into the power of his office processors and began his methodical probe of the session data.
Glen chuckled, prompting Rod to walk over to where his chief knelt next to the bike. Glen looked up and smiled. ‘These tires would go another ten laps at that pace, easy. A full stint and more.‘ he said.
‘That’s kind of surprising I guess.‘ Rod replied. ‘But they did feel good the whole time.‘
Pete interrupted their chat. ‘Well either the sims or the models have a flaw.‘ he told them. ‘The sims suggested a similar lap time; but the means to that target ended up being different in a couple of significant ways.‘ he added, noticing the confused looks. ‘Okay, have a look at this.‘ he pointed at his computer display. ‘The blue trace is the simulated speed around the course, while the red one is the actual data from this session. Note that there are several locations where the differential approaches ten kph, above or below the sims prediction.‘ Pete clarified.
‘So what does that mean?‘ Glen asked.
‘It means that either the sim or the model we’re using doesn’t accurately reflect actual performance under these conditions.‘ Rando responded.
‘We have a fair level of confidence that the simulator is good, which means the models are where the flaw lies.‘ Pete went on. ‘But it’s going to take a lot of analysis to figure out where that flaw is.‘ he added, closing his laptop.
‘No point in collecting more data at this point, is that correct Pete?’ Rod asked.
‘No point boss. We have enough data for me to figure this out, I just need time on my workstation.‘ Pete replied. ‘I’m going back up there now, and should have an answer this afternoon. This has to be some fairly obvious assumption errors in the models.‘
Rando looked up the weather forecast for the remainder of the week. ‘Looks like we should have our choice of Wednesday or Thursday to get in some more wet testing.‘ he told them.
‘Gives us time to nail this. I’ll make sure the bike is ready.‘ Glen chimed in.
‘I’ll keep everyone on the same page. Let’s wrap things down here then, and thanks everyone.‘ Rod said, peeling off his still-soaked suit to return to the office.
It was getting close to lunch hour; but Rod needed a shower and a change of clothes before he spent time around other humans. He drove Rando and Pete up to the center, then went on to the villa to freshen up. Just as he arrived his phone rang. ‘Ehrlmeir.‘ he answered using the bluetooth.
‘Just wondering how things were going.‘ Miranda’s voice warmed him inside.
‘Oh hey there lady. Things went well; but Pete has some work to do on the models based on the data we collected.‘ Rod replied.
‘So you’ll be back up here?‘ she asked.
‘Yeah. I’m at the villa, and I’m going to freshen up a little; but I should be up there in an hour or so.‘ Rod told her.
‘Okay, I’ll have some lunch here at my office if that works for you.‘ Miranda said.
‘Thanks babe. See you in an hour.‘ he replied.
‘Ciao.‘ she responded, ending the call.
Rod took a hot shower and donned a fresh set of office clothes, heading back out into the wet day. He would spend time with the design leads this afternoon, to see what was happening, particularly with the chassis group. His discussions with Pete were leading to some significant changes to the design of the monocoque to enable the future application of Julia’s ‘hotspot’ sensor. He parked in the garage beneath the building to stay dry, taking the elevator up to the main level to head for Miranda’s office in the admin block.
‘I have sandwiches coming, hope that’s okay.‘ Miranda said as he walked in.
‘Sounds perfect.‘ Rod replied.
‘Earl Grey?‘ she suggested, reading his mind. He smiled and gave her a wink.
‘Thanks honey.’ he said, taking the cup from her. ‘How’s your day?‘ he asked.
‘Busy as usual; but productive I think. Rando sent me a note that Jack Voight from Williams would be in town later this week. Do we need to do anything special?‘ Miranda asked, getting down to business.
‘I’m not certain; but I don’t think so.‘ Rod replied. ‘He’s popping in to save some travel expense as he’ll be up in Modena for a meeting. He’ll be spending some time with Pete and Rando, and I’ll probably do a meet and greet as well just to shake his hand.‘
The cafeteria cart arrived carrying the makings for sandwiches and salads. They put together small subs and garden salads and made small talk as they ate. They discussed their day together, and the possibility of doing it again soon. Both recognized the need to keep things on a non-personal level when at work, and would find ways to achieve that while allowing the relationship to grow. It helped that each was intensely focussed in the office.
After lunch Rod returned to his office to catch up on electronic and voice messages, and to check in with Pete. After following up with a couple of things he walked out to the corridor and poked his head into Pete’s office. ‘Anything new?‘ he asked, watching Pete’s fingers tickle his keyboard as his eyes scanned the huge display.
‘Nothing certain yet; but it’s definitely some marginal assumptions. They can’t be too far off since the dry sims were so close; but it wouldn’t take much.‘ Pete replied without looking up. ‘Two areas I’m looking at, one with the bike and the other with the rider. This one could be the rider.‘ he added, finally raising his eyes, adding a smile.
‘Good enough, I don’t need the answer now, just wondering.‘ Rod said. ‘Hey, I’m going to go bug Julia in a few minutes. Anything we should add to our discussions from the other day?‘ he asked.
Pete thought for a few moments. ‘Mmm… just that we’ll need to keep tabs on those hooks we talked about. I’m sure she knows.‘
‘Okay. Get back to work, would ya?‘ Rod chuckled, heading to the staircase to go down to the main level. He encountered Jan Kitterman coming up the stairs, and filled him in on the morning’s session. ‘We put in some good laps and got some good data; but the net of it is we have work to do on the models.‘ Rod told him.
‘Oh? I thought they looked good?‘ Jan replied.
‘In dry conditions they were very good; but in the wet the simulations returned performance that didn’t match actuals as closely as we expect – as closely as we need.‘ Rod explained. ‘Lap times were reasonably close; but detail performance characteristics were off by as much as ten percent. Pete is working on it now. He’s leaning toward the assumptions on the rider side of things.‘ he added.
‘So this is the unknown we’ve talked about. I see. Okay, I am confident that Signor Salzberg will resolve things. When do we expect some update?‘ Jan asked, expressing his interest.
‘Pete expects to have some answers by tomorrow, and we’re looking at Wednesday or Thursday for more track time to confirm any changes he makes.‘ Rod said.
‘Excellent. Keep me posted Rod.‘ Jan said, heading back for his office.
Rod arrived at Julia’s office, a ‘quad’ actually as she and her team had decided to move partitions around so that they shared the workspace. It made for quite an efficient environment, as they included their plotter and digitizer platforms along with the workstations for the three engineers. ‘Good afternoon Julia, how are we doing?‘ Rod greeted her.
‘Oh yes sir, Signor Rod. I am doing well thank you.‘ Julia responded, stopping what she was doing and turning around to face him respectfully.
‘Please, not so formal Julia. And I don’t mean to interrupt your work.‘ Rod said. ‘I just stopped in to see if you had any questions for me, or need any help on the chassis work.‘
‘Um… let me show you where we are, and let us spend a few minutes with my team. We do have some questions about the integration of this new – uh – device.‘ Julia said.
They went through the status, discussing what their concerns were and when they would need a few answers as Rod took some notes. Rather than speculating, he proposed a brief meeting later in the week to include Pete and Rando in the discussion. Rod pinged Miranda to set it up and he left the designers to their tasks.
Back up in his office, Rod went through the detailed schedules to confirm that the projects were on track, finding that the powerplant guys would be next on his list to visit. It was late enough that he would put it on his schedule for the morning. He was ready for a slow evening, a hot toddy, and a warm bed. Rando appeared at his door, apparently having read his thoughts. ‘Hey boss, you feeling ready?‘ Rando asked.
‘Definitely; but what’s happening with Peter?‘ Rod replied.
Rando looked toward Pete’s office. ‘Yo, Peter!‘
A minute later they heard a door close and Pete appeared with his laptop case. ‘Yo!‘ he said with a smile. ‘I can do everything I need to do at home.‘
Twenty minutes later they rolled up to the villa, Rod retiring to his suite for a catnap while Pete and Rando hit the library to continue their work. An hour later Rod joined them in the discussion. ‘Any news?‘ Rod asked.
‘I think so.‘ Pete replied. ‘The assumption for grip seems to be wrong, and the ECU model is also a bit off for some reason. I’ve re-extracted the ECU model from the code, and made an adjustment to the grip assumption. We were about to re-run the sim, starting with the one from the race that was so close. If that one remains close, we’ll run the wet sim.‘ he added without looking up. ‘and…. here we go.‘ he tapped a key to start the simulation run. The process was actually running on his office machine, which would be much quicker than the laptop.
‘So… it’ll be a few minutes?‘ Rod suggested.
Pete nodded. ‘Yeah, about fifteen I guess.‘
‘Not the rider, huh?‘ Rod laughed.
‘Sorry boss, I guess you’re just too predictable.‘ Rando chuckled.
‘Toddy’s all around gentlemen?‘ Pete asked, as the warm drink was one of his specialities. Rando and Rod both nodded, and Pete went to the bar to begin preparations. ‘Really I don’t know why I thought it might be a rider thing. The rider is pretty predictable where assumptions are concerned.‘
The toddy’s were served, based on Denise’s sun tea, and really hit the spot. The laptop chimed and got their immediate attention. The simulation of the race data had completed, and triggered the simulation to run on the wet track data. Pete’s fingers went to work on the keyboard, bringing up the graph generator. A few moments later the results appeared, drawing a smile from Pete. ‘These results are very nearly identical to the originals, so at least we didn’t screw things up with the changes.‘ he said, taking a sip of his drink.
‘So far so good.‘ Rod added.
Denise came in, bringing a tray of appetizers she’d ‘just thrown together’. ‘Will you gentlemen be wanting dinner this evening?‘ she asked, setting the tray on the conference table.
Rando looked over the contents of the tray and let out a whistle. ‘Not for me. This looks just about perfect.‘ he replied.
Rod looked at Pete, and added ‘I think that’ll do just fine Denise, thanks.‘
She gave them a low bow, bid them a good evening, and was gone as the three men dug in to the goodies she left with them. A variety of light delights with vegetables and cheeses along with bites of fresh salami and other italian meats. As they sampled the assortment, the laptop again chimed the successful completion of the wet track simulation. Pete again attacked the keys, bringing up the graphs for review. ‘Oh yeah, much better.‘ he said. ‘Some fine adjustments will correct the small errors. Two of the places that were a ways off are right on, the others are within a few kph now.‘
‘Excellent! So we’re ready for the next session?‘ Rando asked.
‘Not quite yet; but I think we should do some thinking out loud about what we want to accomplish with that next session before we do it.‘ Pete replied, getting a nod of confirmation from Rod. ‘We have a good start on the models for the superbike and the rider, so now we need to work on the interaction between those when the bike isn’t perfect.‘ he added.
They finished the tray of food and the toddys, and wrapped up the evening’s activities having accomplished the missions for the day.
Tuesday dawned cool and overcast; but not wet. Rando and Pete, anxious to get to the office to work on the ‘adjustments’ to the bike for the next round of tests, donned their gear and rode in while Rod decided to drive the Alpha just in case. He would get plenty of riding in as the week went on. He stopped in at Miranda’s office to touch base and have a quick cup of her personal coffee before heading up to his digs. She had a couple of non-urgent messages for his attention; but nothing to disrupt his plans for the week. They agreed to have lunch together later and he headed up to the mezzanine.
Rando was in Pete’s office, probing for information about what Pete wanted to do to the bike. ‘Now just remember this Rando, whatever we decide to do you can’t share it with Rod. The response needs to be his natural response to what the motorcycle does in his hands. If he knows about the changes ahead of time, the response won’t be the same. Think ‘adapting to an issue during a race’ if that helps you.‘ he cautioned.
‘No worries lad. I’ll keep it under my hat; but I need to know so I can have Glen make the changes.‘ Rando replied.
Pete looked him in the eye and smiled. ‘Actually, I just sent a message to Glen and copied you.‘ he said. ‘We’re going to make some changes to the ECU – pretty subtle really – but also changing the damper settings.‘ he added with a smile.
‘Okay, I’ll read the message.‘ Rando said, returning the smile. ‘Does it matter whether the track is wet or dry?‘
‘Not really. We’ll need the data under as many different conditions as we can get.‘ Pete answered. He indicated without a sound that Rod had just walked past his door, and they heard his office door open. ‘We’ll let him get settled before we talk to him about testing.‘
Rod brought up his workstation, downloading his e-mails while he listened to two voice messages. One of those was from Julia, who asked that he stop by to have a look at some new data. The other was from the Monsignor’s assistant, passing along an invitation to Signor Chiatarini’s home for dinner the following weekend, an invite that included ‘Ms. Chiou’ as well. He made a note to let Miranda know, then moved on to his e-mails. He was copied on a note from Jack Voight, confirming that he would be in town Thursday afternoon, and wondered if ‘the team’ could meet at the center then join him for dinner. He made another note to talk with the guys about that.
The other messages were the advisory sort, nothing he needed to do. He went to his list recalling that today was a powerplant day, and logged in to review the updated notes and status for the team. While the overall project was meeting the schedule milestones, they had not yet resolved some of the model and simulation issues. He would need Pete for the discussion. With that in mind he got up, taking in his view with the sun shining through the ground fog before he headed around the corner to find Peter.
‘Hey Pete, how’s it going?‘ Rod asked, finding both Pete and Rando in the office.
‘Good boss. A couple of minor adjustments and the sims now match both wet and dry performance very well.‘ Pete replied. ‘I think we’ll be ready to go to the next level of testing whenever you’re ready to ride.‘
‘Excellent. We can schedule track time whenever you’re ready.‘ Rod replied. ‘Some time today we should head down and take a look at the powerplant stuff. They’re still struggling with the model and sim stuff.‘ he added.
‘Okay, no problem. Before or after lunch?‘ Pete responded, looking up.
‘Let’s go down now and check things out with Max.‘ Rod replied.
Rando went back to his office while Pete and Rod headed down to work with Max Ciardini and the powerplant designers. After thirty minutes of discussion between Max and Pete they had identified the most likely reason for a mismatch between the simulation results and those that would be expected from ‘conventional’ analysis. Pete showed Max where the problem was, making changes to his model parameters before re-running the sim. That result showed a response to the design changes that more closely matched what the designers had expected, and Max seemed to understand the reasons. ‘You can always call me directly if you run into glitches like this Max. I expect we’ll run into a fair number of situations like this one until we’ve exercised a majority of the possibilities with these models and sims. What say we have a daily hallway chat to stay on top of things?‘ Pete suggested.
‘Sure Pete, if you have the time.‘ Max replied.
‘I’ll see you every day near the end of the day, and we’ll take care of any issues you see real-time, okay?‘ Pete suggested, taking Max’s hand in agreement.
On their way back upstairs, Pete brought up the visit from Williams. ‘So you up for an afternoon session and dinner with Voight on Thursday?‘ Pete asked.
‘Sounds fine. I didn’t notice if Miranda was copied on that note. I’ll followup with her so it’s in my calendar.‘ Rod replied, making a mental note as he and Pete headed back up to the mezzanine. ‘We should be using some sort of bug tracking system with these modeling projects. Can you set that up?‘
‘Sure, and I agree. It would be more efficient.‘ Pete replied. ‘I have a platform we can base it on, and I’ll have something on the network by the end of the week. Something tailored to the modeling projects.‘ he added, stepping into his office as they arrived.
Rod returned to his space and again took in the beauty outside as the sun tried to burn off the overcast, creating rays through the mist. Then he forwarded the e-mail about the visit from Williams to Miranda, adding a note to book his time in the afternoon and evening on Thursday. He would have simply added the engagement himself; but knew his assistant appreciated being aware of his appointments in case one of the executives needed to know.
Pete poked his head in. ‘Hey boss, if you’re free we could gather some more data this afternoon. Looks like a good opportunity to grab details for ‘damp not wet’ conditions. If it works for you I’ll have Rando make the arrangements.‘ he suggested, waiting until Rod looked up and nodded before returning to his office. A 3pm rollout time would work.
A reminder chimed on Rod’s workstation and he glanced up. Fifteen minutes to lunch with Miranda. He smiled inside at that thought and went back to work on his status update for the senior staff. It wasn’t due until Friday; but he liked to have his updates noted as they happened, subject to edits before publication; but accurate at the moment. Just as the five minute chime sounded he saved the file and rose to head down for lunch.
UPCOMING ADDITIONS TO THIS SECTION:
*** Previewing the design elements
*** Weekly reviews with Chiatarini
*** Pete’s modeling tricks are refined
*** Final design simulations and reviews
*** Design mule takes shape
*** Final review and a visit to Williams F1