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Chevrolet Corvette C7.R “Behind the Reveal”

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As the public eagerly awaited a glimpse of the spectacular new Corvette C7.R, the Corvette Racing team had a mission of their own. They were secretly testing, under the radar of any press or public, a stealthy camo’ed C7.R test car. Among the picturesque rolling hills of the famed Road America race track in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, just days before its public Laguna Seca sighting last summer, the team covertly prepared for what could be the birth of another racing giant.

Replacing and improving upon the back-to-back American Le Mans Series championship-winning C6.Rs would not be a simple undertaking. “It’s a tough act to follow, but we’ll do it,” confirmed the confident motorsports authority and Corvette Racing Team Manager, Gary Pratt.

The systems and components underneath its beastly skin have involved thousands of hours of hard work, performed discreetly, by some of the best engineers and technicians that motorsports has to offer. With only a handful of people in the know and even fewer in attendance, they developed the new contestant and prepared for its inaugural race at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.

“The 24 Hours of Daytona is a race that exposes cars to twice around the clock grueling conditions. When you enter a demanding race like Daytona with two newly developed race cars, you’ve got to be realistic and understand you may not win.” explained Mark Kent, Director of Chevrolet Racing. “However, even though we didn’t win the race, we view the Corvette C7.R leading twenty hours into the race as a victory in itself. Overall, the Corvette C7.Rs performed well in their first race. We are looking forward to the balance of the 2014 Tudor Sports Car Championship season.”

What will make the C7.R a worthy successor to the famed C6.R is all the contributions from so many within the Chevrolet and Pratt & Miller organizations. “There’s a lot of talent on this team” confirmed race engineer, Chuck Houghton.

In a new car, in the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship series, the team will carry the all-encompassing passion to continue Corvette Racing’s legendary tradition.

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Collision Avoided

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A Pratt & Miller Engineering and Bosch Motorsports partnership is taking steps toward making the world of motorsports safer through an award-winning radar system. The Collision Avoidance System, which tracks cars and distances, works as an “extra set of eyes,” as Corvette racer Richard Westbrook described. Track images are captured and overlaid with radar data on the rear view display. This allows for at-a-glance driver recognition, even at night and in the rain.

This integration of multiple hardware and software components started gaining a great deal of attention last March, with its debut at the 12 Hours of Sebring. Within a year’s time, the system has received two awards in the motorsports community, is now in its production ready version and is about to be shipped across the world to teams in need.

The new version totes some serious improvements: 50% thinner, 30% lighter and streamlined internal hardware components for improved reliability and manufacturability. This has been the result of intense collaboration with Bosch Motorsports and their production expertise over the last two months.

One of the advantages of this system is that the driver doesn’t need to take their eyes off the road; they can utilize it with just their peripheral vision due to how the interface is designed. “This has kind of been the goal all along,” says Chris Hammond, the Lead Radar System Engineer at Pratt & Miller. “It’s funny that we are developing this product and putting so much time into how it looks and functions, to have the end goal of making it so the driver never has to look directly at it.”

While the Corvette C7.R is one of the fastest GT cars, they aren’t the fastest overall on the track. With two other faster classes that run at the same time, being able to see those cars as they are approaching creates a safer environment for overtaking and provides teams and fans with what they want— more green-flag racing.


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'Working Out' with the Government

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Through a series of government funded grants, the Small Business Innovation Research program (SBIR) allows non-traditional small businesses like Pratt & Miller to flex their creative muscles beyond the typical envelope of government programs.

The first set of sketches are a result of a Pratt & Miller brainstorming session in which the SBIR program focuses on creating an automatic restraint system in military vehicles. The overall intent of the system is to accommodate 95% of the soldier population and save the lives of our military men and women. By itself the system is a significant advancement in the defense market; however, if the intellectual property behind the system is commercialized, the possibilities are endless.

At Pratt & Miller, SBIR projects typically kick-off with a brainstorming session. The ground rules are simple: encourage wild and exaggerated ideas, withhold judgment, enforce a non-attribution policy, provide quantity not quality, and piggyback on others’ concepts. With these 5 basic ground rules established, ingenuity and innovation can fly. Sketches provided by an industrial designer bring the ideas to life allowing the team and subject experts to hone in on a few select concepts.

“Pratt & Miller Best Practices aside, one thing we know for sure is that participation in the SBIR program is key to support our technology development goals and commercialization efforts,” said Sara Blackmer, Pratt & Miller’s Director of Government Markets. “The opportunity they provide a company like Pratt & Miller, in terms of funded product research and development, is critical to our long term product strategy.”

Pratt & Miller believes that “working out” with SBIR can put small businesses on a track of innovation and change that benefits the company, as well as the country.

Did You Know: iRobot, a company known for designing and building various household robots (including the iRobot Roomba®), participates in SBIR programs. In fact, the SBIR program has supported a variety of iRobot research initiatives, contributing more than $16 million in funding for the development of new sensors and enhancements to robotic capabilities.

For more information on SBIR success stories please visit:

https://www.sbir.gov/success-stories


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Representing America - PME Manufacturing

When you’re battling the world’s fastest race cars in the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans, preparation is key.

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The DARPA Challenge: Robotic CHIMP to Save Lives

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In an effort to keep humans safe, Carnegie Mellon’s Highly Intelligent Mobile Platform (CHIMP) and its powerhouse team have combined efforts in a Defense Advances Research Projects Agency (DARPA) competition to discover the future of autonomous technology.

The goal of DARPA’s Robotic Challenge was to create robots to keep humans safe in disaster scenarios like the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and the BP oil spill. The contest consisted of multiple human related tasks like driving a vehicle, using tools, climbing a ladder and maneuvering over terrain.

Utilizing Pratt & Miller Engineering’s high performance and advanced mobility simulation expertise, the CHIMP is supported by software algorithms and modeling and simulation. An example of how the CHIMP team, “Team Tartan Rescue,” benefits from PME’s support is in calculating the amount of torque needed in the arm of the CHIMP to climb a ladder or pick up an object effectively.

The CHIMP team placed third in the 2013 challenge, which took place in December. Having qualified for the final competition, they now look forward to that contest in late 2014.

Carnegie Mellon and Pratt & Miller have collaborated in the past on other unmanned robotic projects such as, the APD (Autonomous Platform Demonstrator), alongside the U.S. Army.

DARPA, the forward thinking, research and development group of the Department of Defense uses challenges like this to drive continued innovation and advances in technology. They push the boundaries of innovation to create technology and products that will be used 20-25 years from now.


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2014 Autorama - Honored In Detroit

Watch this video to see how Pratt & Miller is making dreams come true in the Motor City.

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Racing to Survivability

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Technology gains on the race track are showing up on the battlefield, and soldiers will reap the benefits. Pratt & Miller is using its proven motorsports experience in making vehicles lightweight, fast, and safe, while broadening its scope to protect military men and women.

In 2010, the US Army’s TARDEC (Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center) organization started working with Pratt & Miller, in an effort to better understand the technology and disciplines behind motorsports engineering and how it could be transferred to military ground vehicles: one of which is the race car’s crash-box.

The crash-box, which sits low inside the driver’s door, is just one example where significant developments have been made in motorsports safety. It is designed to absorb kinetic energy during a side impact. Composed of only lightweight honeycomb and Kevlar, it’s the perfect example of lightweight materials working together to protect the occupant.

Pratt & Miller’s expertise is also being used in developing Occupant Centric Design Standards. In OCP (Occupant Centric Platform), the objective is to build vehicle protection around the soldier while reducing weight and improving mobility. OCP evaluates the impact of safety systems by installing them on demonstrator vehicles, with the goal of reducing casualties by 50 percent over baseline.

“It’s great to see the Army’s initiative in this area continue to grow. The technology and processes that surround survivability are only getting better,” said Kris Houghton, Pratt & Miller’s Director of Engineering Services. “OCP programs are important on many levels, the obvious being they will help bring our brave men and women home safely. It’s an honor to be involved.”


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Corvette Stingray: A License to Thrill

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Tearing around a race track with 460 hp can offer drivers an indulgence in excitement. The 2014 Corvette Stingray jets drivers 0 to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds with a stunning new design, demanding the title of 2014 North American Car of Year that it earned at the North American International Auto Show this year in Detroit.

The “Stingray Precision Drive” program awards drivers their license to thrill with four hours of intense instruction and vehicle immersion while sitting behind the wheel of the new Corvette Stingray Z51. With the program touring race tracks around the country, the event allows drivers the once in a lifetime experience of blazing through turns at speeds that will leave any amateur feeling like a professional.

“After driving the track I realized the new 2014 Stingray makes a bad driver a great driver,” stated a guest at the Precision Drive Event in Fontana, California.

Such an event places immense demands on vehicles and requires excellent attention and support as provided by a skilled group from Pratt & Miller.

Pratt & Miller supports many types of events, both on and off the track, for a variety of customers, but the Precision Drive event following the Detroit Auto Show was special. “Maintaining a fleet of cars that just received such a high honor was a great opportunity,” said Ray Errer, Pratt & Miller’s Program Manager for the event. “The stingrays easily handled the demanding track environment.”

The invitation only Stingray Precision Drive program is a complimentary experience provided by Chevrolet. For more information, please visit:

http://www.stingrayprecisiondrive.com

Pratt & Miller supports and manages vehicle events around the country. For inquiries, contact

info@prattmiller.com

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