Robert Sansone, great job!

So many young prospective engineers read HN every day. Let's find comments that are encouraging or thought provoking or point readers in helpful directions Like @londons_explore did.

Bringing the beatdown is bad for everyone. Especially bad for young engineers. This kid is impressive, straight up impressive. Let's encourage him and others like him. HN shouldn't someone's supervillain origin story.


This is inspiring, and let's look at why so many of us have the impulse to figure out what the flaw or missing part of the story is.

For me, it's because I hadn't done something so cool at 17. That makes me think, huh, I wonder if I'm not a "natural born engineer". I start going through my life story so far and beating myself up for playing too many video games, or not going deep enough on my interests.

Then I start thinking about the ways my life is different from his. I start to feel resentment about the opportunities I didn't have, the resources that weren't available. What could I have done if things had been different?

Next I start to resent how society scores us on things that can contribute to the economy, or things that look particularly cool, and things that we accomplished at a young age.

And then I start to imagine the difficulties that this young inventor will have. "Oh yes", I think, "He'll find out soon enough what the REAL world is like."

And these thoughts are not who I want to be. But I can reflect and learn something about myself from them. And I can choose to go another way.

I can decide that, if a 17 year old kid with the right resources and a crazy idea can make something really cool, then I, as an adult with more experience and resources can make something at least as cool if I want to. And I'm going to. It's not like my life is over because I'm older than 17.

And if this article is making you spiral with insecurity, I hope you make a similar decision. A decision to be inspired instead of intimidated.

Inspiring story all round but this paragraph stood out for me:

“I didn't have a mentor to help me, really, so each time a motor failed, I had to do tons of research and try and troubleshoot what went wrong,” he says. “But eventually on the 15th motor, I was able to get a working prototype.”

I imagine most 17 year old would not have kept going 15+ times until they arrived at something which worked.

BEVs like Teslas already have a rare-earth-free induction motor in them. They use an additional rare earth motor for efficiency, which in the Model S and X gets them ten percent greater range. The way this article conveniently ignores that fact leads me to believe there's no chance of the modified synchronous reluctance motor exceeding the efficiency of the induction motor and therefore will have no impact on the electric car industry.

Mighty impressive work from a teenager, though.

> "The video explained that most electric car motors require magnets made from rare-earth elements"

For years, Tesla exclusively used induction motors with no permanent magnets. It's only relatively recently (when the Model 3 was released) that they started using permanent magnets in order to gain a few % better efficiency.

Even now, dual-motor cars often pair an induction motor with a permanent magnet motor. This configuration has various advantages: the induction motor can spin freely with no resistance when no power is required, so using one of each provides the best combination of efficiency and power.

A tesla Model 3 motor already is partially a reluctance motor. This youtube video describes it rather well, and I'd recommend giving it a watch [1]. Notice the air gaps - thats the reluctance part of the rotor.

[1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esUb7Zy5Oio

Cool article, engineers gonna engineer!

Two things that jumped out to me: it’s incredibly seeing copper being compared as the “cheap” alternative! Obviously it would be compared to rare earth but copper is typically “expensive” in general or household applications. Also, I had no idea Tesla motors spin at up to 18k rpm that’s just bonkers. Guess it makes sense because they’re single speed(?) Dang, old diesels (kind of an extreme example, I acknowledge) redline at like 3500 rpm.

This is great, I'm happy for him! But I miss the creative aspect in myself. I used to be so creative like him, with so many half-finished inventions scattered around the house.

Today there's nothing. I finally managed to carve out a day or two per week away from my job to work on personal projects after many years of failed attempts to get away at great personal expense. But the last 3 days that I went to work on something, I picked up the metaphorical brush and there was nothing there. No creative impulse, just worries about chores/bills/obligation and painful memories from 20 years of negative reinforcement after failing at business or going through traumatic life events in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2019 and during the pandemic. Probably many more that all blur together. Now I just project my frustrations onto the world with negativity and accomplish no forward progress towards my life goals.

Does anyone know a way to truly rekindle the creative spark after it's completely died? I feel generally happy and capable, but in borderline crisis that I can't self-start anymore or do work that isn't demanded of me externally. I'm coming to terms with the harsh reality that I'll likely never accomplish even one thing of any importance in all of the remaining years of my life. There's only work now and the daily grind. Pedal to the metal in first gear. Like I started out as Wesley Crusher but today am Paulie from Rocky with no prospects, only long slow decline.

All the objections to this that I have are from the breathless tone of this article, and the many others in the past that have made big claims for the sake of precious, precious clicks. Whether or not this particular design revolutionizes the field is beside the point. As we know, most things do not. But if he's made something novel that expands our understanding, and he's done it in a garage without institutional backing, or investors, or even a mentor, then it's an impressive achievement.
So, how is it in terms of efficiency? The article mentions that it's 31% more efficient than existing reluctance motors, but doesn't give a comparison to the traditional electric motors.
As a parent, my first question is what did his parents do to foster this and enable it, and can I do it too? I know my kids may not be interested in engineering, but I want to at least give them the chance. And I suspect whatever his parents did is applicable to other interests too.
> If his motor continues to perform with high speed and efficiency, he says he’ll move forward with the patenting process.

Is it a wise move? Shouldn't he just file a patent application instantly? (It is not a kind of a sarcasm or something. I really do not know, and I'd like to hear from people experienced with patent applications.)

This next generation is finally fulfilling the promise of the Internet in my opinion. Every book, article, research paper and millions of high quality instructional videos, lectures and courses are there for the taking. And the Zoomers really are using all that information. It's like water to fish - it's all around them.

I've personally seen my son and his friends get into and then become proficient in a bunch of different topics, like motorcycle maintenance, programming games, film and video editing, drone racing/building, music and a ton of other real-world useful skills, all without a mentor being involved. I've personally learned more about a bunch of different topics I never had a handle on before, like physics and math, where my education was stuck at an 11th grade level until the past few years.

Compared to my teen years, the difference is breathtaking. I think the result will be a better society and a bunch of people doing what they really love for a living.

This is just so damn impressive. He has considered things from materials science, physics, making I.e. the reality of building things that others have funds of millions$ to try.

Hats off to him for this amazing achievement. It’s a path-making achievement and wish him every success.

Impressive to come up with this on his own, but possibly already patented. Tesla has been using magenets instead of airgaps in their Internal Permanent Magnet - Synchronous Reluctance Motor back in 2020. Hopefully his other inovations are more novel. https://uk.motor1.com/news/462107/video-tesla-model-3-electr...
This is awesome.

He mentions not having a mentor... "“I didn't have a mentor to help me, really,"

But I am skeptical about that claim-- I think good guidance by good parents is arguably mentorship.

A quick google search yielded a family run HVAC company, Sasone-AC in St. Lucie, Florida, which is essentially a suburb next to Fort Pierce, Florida, where Robert Sasone resides. Nicolas Sansone is an owner & Vice President of Sansone-AC. Nicolas Sansone who is related to Robert Sansone.

I think it's likely this kid's father, mother, uncle, etc. is an engineer and/or entrepreneur/business person (or engineer/scientist of sorts) and mentored him.




That said, Robert's Sansone's accomplishment here is really awesome.

My dad was an alcoholic doctor and all I turned out to be is a software engineer (I say this with sarcasm and jokingly :P). All kidding aside though: I think having parents who offer good guidance does make a difference.

I don't know how this motor works, but it instantly reminded me of my mentor's vintage guitar amp with a field coil speaker[1]. The key idea was that copper was cheaper than magnets, so they make an extra coil of wire on the speaker which generates a magnetic field. Then the voice coil drives the speaker by modulating that field. This article[2] seems like a decent introduction to the topic.

The thing that struck me about the amp was how lightweight it was. While newer amps may use rare earth magnets (which pack more magnetic field per gram) vintage amps usually had to use heavy inefficient magnets.

[1]: http://www.preservationsound.com/2010/10/the-field-coil-guit... [2]: https://www.edn.com/field-coil-speakers-obsolete-or-the-futu...

I normally try to avoid posting a comment that echoes others, but I will make an exception this time.

I am old enough to remember issue after issue in the 90s of Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Scientific American, and other magazines wherein there’d be a breakthrough that promised to revolutionize the world. Then, you’d read news off Yahoo or Fark that would describe a young wiz kid’s new invention. Nothing happened. Ever.

Due to this inevitable hype train that lacks any kind of stopping ability, paranoid types would start thinking that the oil industry must be involved in stopping them. Not a bad assumption given things that megacorps have done in the past, but it is generally bad policy to invent large nefarious schemes with zero evidence.

As a younger guy, I was always intrigued and would then start drawing and writing about the world to come! It was so enjoyable and the crushing disappointment would come over the months as nothing more was heard or seen. I awoke to the reality that people run risk calculations on business, on machinery, on changes, and if the financials aren’t viable, things don’t happen. Additionally, young inventors are often seduced by patent purchase offers. Then if megacorp X has a bad culture that can’t produce a truly new product… it dies. Beyond all of those challenges, you have regulators to convince as well. Of course, here in the good ol’ USA, regulators don’t seem to care toooooo much about safety. Paper thin cars with zero crumple zones? okay. SUVs without doors, roofs, accurate steering? okay. Trucks and SUVs with very high rollover potential? sure. Non-lockable differentials? absolutely. Massive lithium batteries that catch fire somewhat easily? Why not.

Note, I am actually fairly libertarian and don’t support regulation in general, but I hear very frequently that automobile regulation is big reason for innovation being stifled, and in this case I do not see how that could be even remotely possible.

Somebody sign him up for YC. $500K is enough to build some good prototype motors and find out if this is commercially viable.
Impressive...we might actually get our next Tesla or Edison...as I've noted here before, why there's not more such prodigies these days with genuine determination and obvious ability given today's population, existing knowledge base and access to education and resources still somewhat eludes me.
What exactly is novel about this? I've participated in ISEF before and the amount of marketing/hyping and the lack of knowledgeable judges is frustrating. ISEF also clearly have a thorough fetish with patents. If you check the box on your form suggesting you may look into patenting in the future, your project performs a lot better.
Wow. This is inspiring — will be interesting to see what else he does in the future. Selfishly I hope he stays focused on innovative hardware stuff rather than getting dragged into advertising optimization or some other big software project.
Good luck if he gets a patent and helps improve the world.

This feels like another story on a revolutionary battery which is 20% better but has 3x parts and is 10x the final cost. I hope it's just bad reporting.

I wonder how much classical education hinders this kind of people. I can see a point in networking, however creating a network of randomly assigned people doesn’t seem so effective. It might be better to create a network from clubs, etc.

I never created anything so impressive while young but I was always curious and building or taking apart stuff. I always felt school got in the way.

in the end I stayed all the way until PhD and later changed careers, but that’s a different story

If it does not pan out for cars it sure will for sailboat engines, golf carts, lawnmowers and more! That is a lot of magnets taken out of the rare earth equation.
The article teases by opening with a casual mention of "high speed running boots" but I'm having a devil of a time finding any info about that.

I've thought about this a bit myself. About 15 years ago my unpowered prototype allowed me to speed walk about as fast as I could sprint. Only problem was my ankles kept hitting each other... Very painful.

Sounds like a very inventive and interesting guy rather than a one trick pony. Good luck!

Minor grammar point: I assume the engineering professor was consulted by Tesla. 'Consulting with' would mean that he asked them for help, which would be somewhat less remarkable.
Kudos to this kid and all his accomplishments to this point. Here’s to a future of many many more. I sure as hell wasn’t this accomplished at 17.
Even if it's never used commercially, this is still so cool. He made his own synchronous reluctance motor! That's super fun!
“But eventually on the 15th motor, I was able to get a working prototype.”

me, on 3rd try: "Nope. FTFAL, Ima watch a film."

When I first began using social media I was excited at the potential ability in the future to look back over my life. In reality I have almost completely abandoned social media and I am very happy with the Google photos remember this day feature which for me goes back at least 15 years. The only worry is how long Google maintain Photos
This is how we do it. Not 30-somethings in STEM for the cash and clout, or Twitter warriors frantically retweeting, or the green PR industry, or authoritarian rules.

More people like this lad, motivated, smart, and hard-working, and we'll become sustainable. Just need to get out of their way.

Tesla’s electric motor evolution is an interesting journey that has taken them at this point to the permanent magnet synchronous reluctance motor (PMSRM). Their history is very interesting. The early Model S was RWD using an induction motor. The AWD Model S then got a smaller induction motor on the front, keeping the larger sibling in the rear. They then ditched the larger rear motor and just used the same smaller motors front and rear. All the while they were also evolving the software to optimize for torque split, acceleration, and range. They released a feature that they called torque sleep in which the rear motor would pulse off leaving just the front motor driving the car during low torque conditions. The AWD was effectively FWD during these moments, squeezing additional range.

When the Model 3 was released, it had a completely new motor, the permanent magnet synchronous reluctance motor. Various names and acronyms called it PMSRM, IPM-SynRM, PMa-SynRM, but the main difference was that now Tesla was moving away from the asynchronous induction motor (and no permanent magnet), to the PMSRM. Having permanent magnets now allowed it to have true “one-pedal” driving, where the car can bring itself to a complete stop without using the physical brakes. With the magnetless induction motors, the driver has to induce a brake hold during a stop, then release, which was still better than keeping the foot on the brake, but one-pedal driving was the luxury feature to have if just for the lazy look-ma-no-pedals stop.

Wait there’s more.

Tesla in its genius still had inventories of the induction motor, so at first they created an AWD configuration that had the extra-large watermelon-sized induction motor in the rear and cantaloupe-sized PMSRM on front. Software was used to optimize for power or range. Stomp on the power pedal and electricity went to the induction motor. Cruise for range and this load was tasked to the PMSRM. There was enough combined torque and power to go around that Tesla could make these modulations hundreds of times a second.

They also sold these combinations as the Performance or Plus version. There was also the LR for Long Range, the LR Plus, the Standard Range, Standard Range Plus). You can guess as to which combination of AWD, RWD, induction, or induction + PMSRM each car model had based on the badging. They did this for a few quarters then went all in on purely PMSRM front and rear. Some Tesla old-school purists still scour the used car listings to find the pure induction models.

If you haven’t experienced it you have to try how smooth the Tesla motors are when it comes to one-pedal driving. It’s really good compared to other makers. One-pedal driving isn’t unique to Tesla but there’s something different in their recipe. It’s available in the latest Model S, 3, X, Y with PMSRM. Tesla engineers are a brilliant lot and maybe Robert Sansone can join them and continue the arc of motor evolution and who knows maybe go back to motors without a permanent magnet someday.

Now I want to know more about his "high-speed running boots".
Bright youngster indeed and very hard working too. Congrats!
Bright kid indeed and very hard working too. Congrats!
Smart kid indeed and very hard working too. Congrats!
Supercool, keep at it, never mind the bollocks!
That's so cool! Nice job!
Very cool congrats to him.
It’s always the same, “<minor> creates revolutionary thing”. And then nothing comes out of it.
"I heard some guy invented a car that gets 100mpg and lasts for 30 years, but the auto industry and oil industry had him killed."
> Instead of using air gaps, Sansone thought he could incorporate another magnetic field into a motor. This would increase this saliency ratio and, in turn, produce more torque. His design has other components, but he can’t disclose any more details because he hopes to patent the technology in the future.

ah well great, we'll all just twiddle our thumbs waiting on that then instead of collaborating on how to integrate the good ideas here into existing large scale manufacturing.

Why are there no improvements in traditional petrol engines? They basically convert 60% into heat. Like use the heat to run a steam engine?