UWE students’ BLOODHOUND game to encourage next generation of kings and queens of speed
Schoolchildren are to compete to design the fastest BLOODHOUND SSC-style car in a new video game created by students at UWE Bristol.
Games technology students will launch Speed Titans this week at a BLOODHOUND showcase event where the Bristol-built vehicle will be put through its paces. It will be its first public run ahead of a planned land speed record attempt in South Africa.
A team of four UWE students from the PlayWest game studio developed the multiplayer game, in which teams working together against the clock, collect objects from a junk yard to create their very own speed machines.
Their designs are then put to the test on an airstrip – with scores given for accuracy, distance and top speed achieved.
Groups of pupils attending the showcase event in Cornwall will be the first to try the game in what could spark the beginning of a national championship among schools to create the ultimate Speed Titans car.
UWE associate professor in technology & innovation Andy King, who has overseen development of the game with PlayWest, said humour, creativity and collaboration were incorporated into the game’s design in order to appeal to a young audience and help spur pupils’ interest in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
“The game is inspired by the BLOODHOUND Model Rocket Car Challenge and is very much Scrapheap Challenge meets Minecraft or the Kerbal Space Program games – but with more of a subversive and playful nature to it,” he said.
“The aim is to build something resembling a land speed car – ideally a chassis with wheels and components such as spoilers and fuel tanks all built around massive aero engines. But it is possible to get movement out of practically any unwieldy collection of cobbled together objects, such as toolboxes and spanners, although poorly-designed cars don’t perform particularly well!
“The functionality of the game allows components to be picked up by players simultaneously, swivelled and tumbled around, then fixed to any position on the car’s chassis. Players can develop their own learning through trial and error as they work out what works and what doesn’t when their cars are put to the test.
“We’re looking forward to seeing the imaginative designs the children come up with and hope they enjoy playing it as much as we did creating it! We would love for it to develop into a full national championship, allowing us to have the greatest possible impact on promoting STEM among the next generation of engineers.”
Speed Titans is one of a number of games and apps developed by the PlayWest team, one of four in-house ‘enterprise studios’ at UWE where student and graduate interns are paid to develop technology products for industry clients and customers from within the university. The studios give students the opportunity to gain first-hand experience on ‘real world’ technology projects relevant to their studies.
The studio earlier developed a prototype mobile app for the BLOODHOUND SSC which can be used by mechanics to detect faults and monitor the car’s performance remotely on a handheld device while the vehicle is running.
Called BLOODHOUND Inspector, the app is capable of receiving data from more than 600 sensors fitted to different parts of the car and acts as a ‘window’ into the vehicle’s system.
Thousands of people are expected to attend the BLOODHOUND event at Cornwall Airport, Newquay, between October 26 and 30 when the car will be trialled at speeds of up to 200mph on the runway. The event is part of a series of key development tests for the jet engine, car and team, and takes place 20 years after Thrust SSC set the current World Land Speed Record of 763.035 mph.
The runway trials will mark the culmination of a month of tests to prove the car’s steering, brakes, suspension, data systems, as well as the EJ200 jet engine, sourced from a Eurofighter Typhoon.
BLOODHOUND SSC started in secret in UWE’s engineering building in January 2008 prior to being made public in October that year. The university – a founding sponsor of the project – helped BLOODHOUND establish itself, from assistance with early CAD drawings to housing engines and building the car’s framework to later finding space in Bristol for the car to be built alongside the ss Great Britain before it moved to Avonmouth. UWE has led university-level engagement in the initiative, developing materials and case studies for use by partner universities.