Super CAD CAM Aerodynamics Software Modeling – Will It Replace Real Prototype Building?

Is it really possible to hold supreme insight into the flow of all we know? That is to say can we learn to model the natural environment so closely as to predict nearly everything? Will we ever have the mathematical knowledge, and artificial intelligent super computers to do this? Perhaps, and as an example of this future debate, lets discuss aerodynamic flows and CAD CAM software, it’s getting pretty robust these days – but is it good enough to forgo prototyping of new aircraft?

There was a cool article recently in Military Aerospace News titled; “Will model-based design make prototypes obsolete for the Military & Aerospace Industry?” by Skyler Frink which made some great points and also stated;

“The obvious benefit of model-based design is that, with programs that include environmental variables (wind conditions, shock and vibrations, altitude, etc.) you can test a model without having to spend the time or money involved in putting together a prototype. You can even use different levels of abstraction. Need to make sure a certain part is working correctly? Just run the model of that part through a series of virtual tests. Want to test the entire project? Run a model of it through a series of virtual tests.”

Okay so, is this a reliable reality? I mean with modeling of this nature, if it were perfect we might also predict particle collisions thus, not need particle accelerators, or to invest in such technologies. Is human mathematical modeling reaching that point? Hard to say but, we can use quantum modeling computers to predict quantum physics accurately. Still we cannot predict the weather all that well, yes, perhaps too many variables, or a misunderstanding of our natural reality.

Nevertheless, the author of that pieces asks a good question; “Will model-based design replace the need for prototypes?” Well, I am not sure, if you will recall the Rutan/Virgin Space ship has a swing wing system for re-entry, and there were several designs that the computer system seemed think aerodynamically worthy, but after testing only one actually worked. This was mentioned in one of the Rutan Videos, and he also spoke at the TED Conference about all this, so there is another example of why we might wish to hold off and vote negative on the replacement using mathematical modeling just yet, see that point?

We may not be there yet for all types of designs, perhaps we are for the simpler ones, in time perhaps for all atmospheric flying craft or those that transition from space to Earth’s atmosphere. Fluid dynamics, aerodynamics, and the flow of all we know may one day be less of a secret and more of a reality. Please consider all this and think on it.