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Taiwanese brand uses supercomputer for latest project

Bike brand Velocite plan to develop “the most aerodynamic, non-recumbent bicycle possible” with the help of the Taiwanese National Centre for High Performance Computing (NCHC) and a supercomputer. The bike will not be legal for UCI (cycle sport’s world governing body) competition.

According to a statement from the Taiwan-based manufacturer, “Velocite has partnered with the NCHC to develop the next generation of aerodynamic bicycles using specially developed algorithms employing both computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation and genetic algorithm (GA) optimization engines conceived and written by NCHC researcher Dr Matthew Smith and a team of researchers from the Applied Computational Engineering (ACE) and Applied Scientific Computing (ASC) divisions.”

That’s a lot of abbreviations and not a lot of punctuation. The main point is that Velocite are hooking up with some computer boffins (that’s what you have to call experts of a scientific nature when you’re in the media) to develop a new aero bike.

The statement continues, “Among the significant resources that are made available to this joint project is the GPU (graphics processing unit) supercomputer housed within the NCHC location in the Tainan Science Park. This GPU based supercomputer was constructed and configured by NCHC staff and possesses more than 240 Tesla computing devices and approximately 8.4 TB of total system memory, making it one of the most powerful computer systems in the world.”

A TB is a terabyte. A terabyte is a trillion bytes. A trillion (in this case) is a million million. If, like us, you’re getting a bit lost in the detail, they’re doing the work on a massive computer, the aim being to simulate a complete bike in motion, including a moving and pedalling rider. Essentially, they’re planning to create a virtual wind tunnel in far more depth than anyone has done before.

“Optimization of the design will be conducted by a genetic algorithm where the final solution evolves over successive breeding generations,” the statement continues. “It is expected that approximately 500 generations will be required, resulting in at least 7500 individual CFD simulations. This means that during the course of optimization at least 7500 individual aerodynamic bicycle designs will be evaluated and tested automatically by the artificial intelligence GA for aerodynamic performance before the optimal design is found.”

The final simulation run will take over 25 days to compute. On a standard desktop PC it would take over 150 years.

Velocite won’t consider UCI regulations during the design process so the resulting bike will be aimed at triathletes and cyclists who don’t take part in UCI-sanctioned events. They expect technological and design breakthroughs from the project and plan to publish some of the findings in relevant scientific and engineering journals.

So, there you go. We’ll show you the design the computer comes up with as soon as Velocite send it our way. Watch this space.

Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.