A driver-less electric open-wheel formula race car competing in the Formula Student driver-less series was put through its paces at a public test earlier this month. The new, improved car saw boosted speed, mapping capabilities and other areas of enhanced performance.
Developed over a nine month period by a 50-strong joint team from Tallinn University of Technolocy (TalTech) and the TTK University of Applied Sciences, chief engineer Tauri Tammaru said: "The biggest issues were the reliability of the self-driving system and the ability to round curves."
Formula Student is an international product development competition primarily aimed at engineering students, where students design and build a single-seat formula vehicle. The vehicle must undergo different tests and race on a race track. The formula cars will be judged by an international jury of high-level experts.
Participating in the project gives students real-life experience in vehicle design and manufacturing, and introduces young engineers to the economic side of the car industry.
FS Team Tallinn has built two electric race-cars, one with a driver (pictured) and the other driverless.
FS Team Tallinn's main sponsors are ABB, OSHINO Electronics Estonia, Harju Elekter, Milrem Robotics,Radius Machining, Skeleton Technologies, Scanweld, Finest Steel, Uddeholm, SKF, Insero OÜ, Attila and the TalTech School of Engineering.
"In order to improve this, we implemented a more robust mapping algorithm, which, together with the new lidar algorithm, allows the car to detect traffic cones from up to 40m instead of the previous 15m," Tammaru added, via a TalTech press release.
In addition, track mapping has been completely redesigned, he said, meaning car can even manage if an error has been made during mapping. "From the second lap onwards, the car will plan the route in advance, using model-based steering."
"Based on a mathematical model, it is possible to estimate how to take the curve as fast as possible," Tammaru went on.
Around the only issue which the car experienced was in getting confused by a banner advertisement while mapping the track, and catching some of the traffic cones marking the track, but these were only minor glitches and overall the race was a success, Tammaru said.
The team, FS Team Tallinn, will be ready to defend its fifth place in the Formula Student world ranking in competitions in Italy, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Germany.
The cars will be in action in Aravete, Järva County, at the Baltic Open from September 8-11, in Estonia.
FS Team Tallinn captain Georg Kõivumägi said he issue with last season's electric formula car was stability when rounding curves, adding this had been resolved by changing the front wing and diffuser to improve airflow in various situations on the track.
A lot of work was performed on the suspension and other improvements, such as adding an an anti-roll bar to the front axle, the teams says.
These changes improved the car's lap times by three seconds.
On bends, the car can reach lateral acceleration of up to 3G and longitudinal acceleration of 2.5G when braking, both of which are 0.5G higher than before, the team says.
Editor: Andrew Whyte