For the first time a new category featured on the programme of Formula Student in Germany - Formula Student Driverless. Electric powered racing cars without a driver but with full autonomous control raced over 10 laps of a cone-marked course at the Hockenheimring. Overall victory in this category was won by the team from the Academic Motorsports Club Zurich (AMZ) with a car using Lenze inverters to power the AC drive motors from the DC batteries. The inverters are part of the MOBILE range supplied by the Schmidhauser division of Lenze who manufacture drives for electric and hybrid vehicles.
Fifteen teams competed with electric race cars developed in previous seasons. Cars were converted to autonomous control with actuators for steering, vision systems and intelligent control. The only external controls were for the start and a safety stop. The track was marked by coloured cones and featured straights, corners and chicanes. The AMZ car was based on a world record breaking design capable of passing 60mph in 1.5 seconds; however speeds at the Hockenheimring were relatively slow, reflecting the limitations of the control systems. Future years are sure to see big advances here.
As is the tradition at the Formula Student Germany, victory hinges on the team’s overall performance. The assessment therefore includes static and dynamic disciplines. Static discipline ratings focus on engineering design, cost analysis and the business plan presentation. In the case of the dynamic disciplines, racing car qualities as endurance and acceleration are put through their paces. The AMZ team won a place on the podium in each of the eight disciplines and even carried off first place in five categories, so at the end of day they were the delighted overall winners of the Driverless category. As this was the first race with driverless racing cars, it was correspondingly difficult for the students to judge how good their developments were compared to the other teams. The joy of the overall winning team was therefore all the sweeter.
The AMZ team with Lenze MOBILE drives also scored a hit in the existing Formula Student Electric category (with driver), gaining 2nd place in the overall rating at Hockenheimring. So the stage is set for a further successful season.
Go to www.lenze.com for more information about drives for electric and hybrid vehicles.