It is in many ways the wind tunnel of the 2020s

(Dr Thomas ROSENBAUM, Caltech President)

The place is the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), the setting is an open space in the Graduate Aeronautical Laboratories at Caltech (GALCIT), created in 1928 to house one of the very first wind tunnels in the USA. The center had Theodore von Kármán as its first director. The wind tunnel has since been dismantled, but GALCIT is now hosting a 21st century technology: a wind and weather facility for drones invented and commercialized by a Swiss company, WindShape (windshape.ch).

The concept was imagined in the summer of 2015 by one of WindShape co-founders (Flavio NOCA, a GALCIT alumnus, PhD 1997). A proof-of-concept was laid down by soon-to-be CEO of WindShape, Guillaume CATRY. At an APS meeting in November 2015, the idea was shared with Prof Morteza GHARIB, the new GALCIT director, who immediately saw it as an excellent opportunity to keep Caltech Aeronautics ahead of its times, as it was in 1928.

After several months of design by Guillaume CATRY and WindShape co-founders, Luca BARDAZZI and Sergio MARQUEZ, in close collaboration with graduate students Marcel VEISMANN and Chris DOUGHERTY as well as Caltech Central Engineering Services (for the electrical and structural integration) and chief project consultant David KREMERS, the very first of such facilities has been built and inaugurated on October 24, 2017, within the Center of Autonomous Systems and Technology (CAST) at Caltech cast.caltech.edu.

WindShape has assembled 1’296 fans for this first ever Wind & Weather drone test facility: WindShaper 1 (name suggested by Professor Mory GHARIB). Each fan can be seen as a wind-pixel. Each pixel is individually controlled: wind speed can be made to vary arbitrarily over each pixel. The pixel wind intensity can also vary in time.  The facility can thus be viewed as a huge TV screen with wind profiles that are variable in space (shear flows) and time (gusts). Weather (rain, snow, hail, fog, dust etc.) can be easily inserted.

 

WindShaper 1 sits within the Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies between the Kármán building…

… and the Guggenhein building, both of which are part of GALCIT (Graduate Aeronautical Laboratories of the California Institute of Technology www.galcit.caltech.edu), inaugurated in 1928 along with its illustrious 10-foot tunnel

 

A century of aerodynamics history 1928 – 2017: WindShaper 1 actually stands next to the entrance of the glorious 10-foot wind tunnel, which marked the birth of GALCIT in 1928 and contributed to the design of illustrious aircrafts such as the famous DC-3. We can only wish WindShaper 1 an equally productive career!

Here are some pictures and time-lapse movies showing the construction workflow in the last few weeks leading to the inauguration on October 24, 2017. The construction is happening in the area between the Guggenheim building and the Kármán building where the drone facility will sit. The super job is being done by Guillaume CATRY, Luca BARDAZZI, and Sergio MARQUEZ, with the help of two GALCIT doctoral students, Marcel VEISMANN and Christopher DOUGHERTY, as well as undergraduates from Caltech and Pasadena City College and WindShape new recruit (Alejandro ZAVALA).

Wednesday October 25, 2017

Los Angeles Times http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/94957579-132.html

 

We are on the Caltech homepage: 

http://www.caltech.edu/news/caltech-launches-new-autonomous-systems-research-center-80164 

 

Check out the time-lapse movie of the construction of CAST and WindShaper 1 with footage provided by Guillaume, Luca, and Sergio.

Tuesday October 24, 2007

Inauguration Day!

Inauguration with Caltech President Dr Thomas Felix ROSENBAUM and donors Foster and Coco STANBACK standing in front of WindShape wind facility

 

The moment: unveiling WindShape wind & weather facility in front of prestigious dignitaries, including Caltech President Felix Rosenbaum and NASA-JPL director Michael Watkins!!

Speech by Thomas Felix ROSENBAUM (Caltech president):

I want to start with a quote from Amelia Earhart who said:

Ours is the commencement of a flying age, and I am happy to have popped into existence at a period so interesting.

And I had the same reaction walking into this room [where WindShaper 1 sits], that this is really a time that we will be able to predict different sorts of things, for we can explore, we can create in ways that we could not otherwise.

As you know through the rich cretacean of Caltech, that the wind tunnels here were a formidable part of our contribution to the world, that the airfoils of Douglas Aircraft all came through here to be tested. Now the aircraft industry has moved on to bigger facilities although we still do a lot of simulations.

But we can now create the next generation of wind tunnels [WindShaper 1]

We can address these important problems of society that you heard about from our faculty and you could tell their excitement in being able to be on an edge of discovery. Now this doesn’t happen by accident but of course happens because of the interactions of people with this incredible curiosity and fearlessness, and it also happens because of the people who believe in them and can make the dreams come true.

To that I would like to add my thanks to Coco and Foster Stanback, I want to thank our industrial partners, Raytheon of course, Aerovironment, and I want to thank also Ares Rosakis who is involved really in bringing this together from the very beginning, along with Ed Stolper, and of course now Mory taking the helmet of this Incredible Way.

This is a partnership that’s formed with JPL. You think about why Caltech plays in the world of discovery and exploration: JPL is a big part of it.

And the ability to bring together different sensibilities and shared purpose is another contribution this aerodrome is going to bring to us as a big community

I’d like to end with a quote from Seneca who is a Roman author from the 1st century, it’s almost 2000 years ago. And he said:

“A single lifetime, even though entirely devoted to the sky, would not be enough for the study of so vast a subject.”

And that’s where we are tonight.

We are here looking up in the sky – protected from a FAA regulation… [pointing to the covered dome, while laughs from the audience cover the speech] – but when we are looking up in the sky and dream of those possibilities, and there‘ll be generation of discoveries into space.

 

The last supper before the moment

After several sleepness nights, their moment has arrived

 

Covering the wall so you cannot see it anymore wink until unveiling tonight during the inauguration ceremony

 

Midnight fan – getting ready for inauguration day in front of Caltech president and other dignitaries!

Monday October 23, 2017

Meet the press (Los Angeles Times, Forbes, Wired etc.)!

 

Flavio NOCA, Mory GHARIB (GALCIT and CAST director), Guillaume CATRY, Luca BARDAZZI, Sergio MARQUEZ

 

WindShape mercenaries: Sergio (Leone), The Good, The Bad, The Ugly (figure out who is who)

Sunday October 22, 2017

First wind! WindShaper 1 is breathing

Connecting every wind pixel

 

Got heavy duty power?

 

Done: WindShaper 1 is born!!

 

Almost done

 

How about this for modularity!

 

Stacking up the fans

 

Ready to load

Every night until dawn, great fun with great people (top row from left: Flavio NOCA, Guillaume CATRY, Sergio MARQUEZ, Luca BARDAZZI; bottom row from left: Marcel VEISMANN, Alex ZAVALA, Reza NEMOVI, Chris DOUGHERTY, and many more that were not around when the picture was taken)

Saturday October 21, 2017

Saturday night live: wiring hundreds of fans at 11pm – with a smile – by Caltech undergraduates, chemistry major Damien BÉRUBÉ and electrical engineering major Tim LIU

Unreasonable use of Starbuck’s coffee while trying to program the motion of 1’500 fans may lead to serious behavioral dysfunctions, as exemplified by Guillaume CATRY and Alex ZAVALA

If you ever need to re-wire your house, call Marcel VEISMANN

Mory GHARIB (GALCIT Director) and Chris DOUGHERTY are honoring some entities that have been contributing to make CAST a unique facility in the world

Friday October 20, 2017

…more like Saturday 4 o’clock in the morning…

Pirates of the wind (left to right, Guillaume CATRY, Sergio MARQUEZ, Luca BARDAZZI)

Left to right, Sergio MARQUEZ, Guillaume CATRY, and Luca BARDAZZI, happy about their end-of-the-day accomplishment – two days left before inauguration!

Marcel VEISMANN assembling a module (foreground), with Peter RENN (Caltech undergraduate), while Sergio MARQUEZ (green shirt) is hiding, and Alex ZAVALA (background) is coding away.

Thursday October 19, 2017

Heavy duty day

Week of October 16, 2017

Early October 2017

On the right is the entrance to the former historical 10-foot wind tunnel built in 1928. To the left, is the entrance to the drone arena where WindShape facility will be located.

The place is the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), the setting is an open space in the Graduate Aeronautical Laboratories at Caltech (GALCIT), created in 1928 to house one of the very first wind tunnels in the USA. The center had Theodore von Kármán as its first director. The wind tunnel has since been dismantled, but GALCIT is now hosting a 21st century technology: a wind and weather facility for drones invented and commercialized by a Swiss company, WindShape (windshape.ch).

The concept was imagined in the summer of 2015 by one of WindShape co-founders (Flavio NOCA, a GALCIT alumnus, PhD 1997). A proof-of-concept was laid down by soon-to-be CEO of WindShape, Guillaume CATRY. At an APS meeting in November 2015, the idea was shared with Prof Morteza GHARIB, the new GALCIT director, who immediately saw it as an excellent opportunity to keep Caltech Aeronautics ahead of its times, as it was in 1928.

After several months of design by Guillaume CATRY and WindShape co-founders, Luca BARDAZZI and Sergio MARQUEZ, in close collaboration with graduate students Marcel VEISMANN and Chris DOUGHERTY as well as Caltech Central Engineering Services (for the electrical and structural integration) and chief project consultant David KREMERS, the very first of such facilities has been built and inaugurated on October 24, 2017, within the Center of Autonomous Systems and Technology (CAST) at Caltech cast.caltech.edu.

WindShape has assembled 1’296 fans for this first ever Wind & Weather drone test facility: WindShaper 1 (name suggested by Professor Mory GHARIB). Each fan can be seen as a wind-pixel. Each pixel is individually controlled: wind speed can be made to vary arbitrarily over each pixel. The pixel wind intensity can also vary in time.  The facility can thus be viewed as a huge TV screen with wind profiles that are variable in space (shear flows) and time (gusts). Weather (rain, snow, hail, fog, dust etc.) can be easily inserted.

 

WindShaper 1 sits within the Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies between the Kármán building…

… and the Guggenhein building, both of which are part of GALCIT (Graduate Aeronautical Laboratories of the California Institute of Technology www.galcit.caltech.edu), inaugurated in 1928 along with its illustrious 10-foot tunnel

 

A century of aerodynamics history 1928 – 2017: WindShaper 1 actually stands next to the entrance of the glorious 10-foot wind tunnel, which marked the birth of GALCIT in 1928 and contributed to the design of illustrious aircrafts such as the famous DC-3. We can only wish WindShaper 1 an equally productive career!

Here are some pictures and time-lapse movies showing the construction workflow in the last few weeks leading to the inauguration on October 24, 2017. The construction is happening in the area between the Guggenheim building and the Kármán building where the drone facility will sit. The super job is being done by Guillaume CATRY, Luca BARDAZZI, and Sergio MARQUEZ, with the help of two GALCIT doctoral students, Marcel VEISMANN and Christopher DOUGHERTY, as well as undergraduates from Caltech and Pasadena City College and WindShape new recruit (Alejandro ZAVALA).

Wednesday October 25, 2017

Los Angeles Times http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/94957579-132.html

 

We are on the Caltech homepage: 

http://www.caltech.edu/news/caltech-launches-new-autonomous-systems-research-center-80164 

 

Check out the time-lapse movie of the construction of CAST and WindShaper 1 with footage provided by Guillaume, Luca, and Sergio.

Tuesday October 24, 2007

Inauguration Day!

Inauguration with Caltech President Dr Thomas Felix ROSENBAUM and donors Foster and Coco STANBACK standing in front of WindShape wind facility

 

The moment: unveiling WindShape wind & weather facility in front of prestigious dignitaries, including Caltech President Felix Rosenbaum and NASA-JPL director Michael Watkins!!

Speech by Thomas Felix ROSENBAUM (Caltech president):

I want to start with a quote from Amelia Earhart who said:

Ours is the commencement of a flying age, and I am happy to have popped into existence at a period so interesting.

And I had the same reaction walking into this room [where WindShaper 1 sits], that this is really a time that we will be able to predict different sorts of things, for we can explore, we can create in ways that we could not otherwise.

As you know through the rich cretacean of Caltech, that the wind tunnels here were a formidable part of our contribution to the world, that the airfoils of Douglas Aircraft all came through here to be tested. Now the aircraft industry has moved on to bigger facilities although we still do a lot of simulations.

But we can now create the next generation of wind tunnels [WindShaper 1]

We can address these important problems of society that you heard about from our faculty and you could tell their excitement in being able to be on an edge of discovery. Now this doesn’t happen by accident but of course happens because of the interactions of people with this incredible curiosity and fearlessness, and it also happens because of the people who believe in them and can make the dreams come true.

To that I would like to add my thanks to Coco and Foster Stanback, I want to thank our industrial partners, Raytheon of course, Aerovironment, and I want to thank also Ares Rosakis who is involved really in bringing this together from the very beginning, along with Ed Stolper, and of course now Mory taking the helmet of this Incredible Way.

This is a partnership that’s formed with JPL. You think about why Caltech plays in the world of discovery and exploration: JPL is a big part of it.

And the ability to bring together different sensibilities and shared purpose is another contribution this aerodrome is going to bring to us as a big community

I’d like to end with a quote from Seneca who is a Roman author from the 1st century, it’s almost 2000 years ago. And he said:

“A single lifetime, even though entirely devoted to the sky, would not be enough for the study of so vast a subject.”

And that’s where we are tonight.

We are here looking up in the sky – protected from a FAA regulation… [pointing to the covered dome, while laughs from the audience cover the speech] – but when we are looking up in the sky and dream of those possibilities, and there‘ll be generation of discoveries into space.

 

The last supper before the moment

After several sleepness nights, their moment has arrived

 

Covering the wall so you cannot see it anymore wink until unveiling tonight during the inauguration ceremony

 

Midnight fan – getting ready for inauguration day in front of Caltech president and other dignitaries!

Monday October 23, 2017

Meet the press (Los Angeles Times, Forbes, Wired etc.)!

 

Flavio NOCA, Mory GHARIB (GALCIT and CAST director), Guillaume CATRY, Luca BARDAZZI, Sergio MARQUEZ

 

WindShape mercenaries: Sergio (Leone), The Good, The Bad, The Ugly (figure out who is who)

Sunday October 22, 2017

First wind! WindShaper 1 is breathing

Connecting every wind pixel

 

Got heavy duty power?

 

Done: WindShaper 1 is born!!

 

Almost done

 

How about this for modularity!

 

Stacking up the fans

 

Ready to load

Every night until dawn, great fun with great people (top row from left: Flavio NOCA, Guillaume CATRY, Sergio MARQUEZ, Luca BARDAZZI; bottom row from left: Marcel VEISMANN, Alex ZAVALA, Reza NEMOVI, Chris DOUGHERTY, and many more that were not around when the picture was taken)

Saturday October 21, 2017

Saturday night live: wiring hundreds of fans at 11pm – with a smile – by Caltech undergraduates, chemistry major Damien BÉRUBÉ and electrical engineering major Tim LIU

Unreasonable use of Starbuck’s coffee while trying to program the motion of 1’500 fans may lead to serious behavioral dysfunctions, as exemplified by Guillaume CATRY and Alex ZAVALA

If you ever need to re-wire your house, call Marcel VEISMANN

Mory GHARIB (GALCIT Director) and Chris DOUGHERTY are honoring some entities that have been contributing to make CAST a unique facility in the world

Friday October 20, 2017

…more like Saturday 4 o’clock in the morning…

Pirates of the wind (left to right, Guillaume CATRY, Sergio MARQUEZ, Luca BARDAZZI)

Left to right, Sergio MARQUEZ, Guillaume CATRY, and Luca BARDAZZI, happy about their end-of-the-day accomplishment – two days left before inauguration!

Marcel VEISMANN assembling a module (foreground), with Peter RENN (Caltech undergraduate), while Sergio MARQUEZ (green shirt) is hiding, and Alex ZAVALA (background) is coding away.

Thursday October 19, 2017

Heavy duty day

Week of October 16, 2017

Early October 2017

On the right is the entrance to the former historical 10-foot wind tunnel built in 1928. To the left, is the entrance to the drone arena where WindShape facility will be located.