Success for University of Edinburgh Formula Student team
Congratulations to the Edinburgh University Formula Student (EUFS) team who competed at Silverstone at the weekend in the annual Formula Student competition. They brought home the trophy for the FS-AI Automated Driving System class which is a testament to the incredible work put into the development of their electrically powered autonomous race car. Well done from a very proud sponsor for your persistence and hard work during a particularly difficult year and your achievement as a team.
The Edinburgh Formula Student team consists of over 100 students from Engineering, Computer Science, Physics and Mathematics departments. The competition enables the students to complement their formal degree education with the practical, hands-on opportunity to build manned and autonomous race cars and compete on the racetrack against other University teams.
Driving the future of autonomous cars
The Formula Student competition, organised by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (ImechE), has seen over 20 years of competitions. In 2018 they augmented the manned, combustion engined competition with the introduction of two Artificial Intelligence autonomous vehicle competition classes – Automated Driving System (ADS) and the Dynamic Driving Task (DDT). For the ADS class, teams compete with autonomous cars they have designed and built themselves from scratch, focusing on engineering and system integration. For the DDT class, teams focus on developing their software and use a vehicle platform provided by the organisers to showcase their results. In both autonomous classes the teams complete a number ‘static’ presentations before the in-person event and ‘dynamic’ missions such as Acceleration, Skid Pad and Endurance at Silverstone.
After the cancellation of the dynamic missions at Silverstone in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic, it was fantastic to see the teams once again at the race circuit, just a week after the professional F1 races.
Covid reduced the time available for build and testing
Preparations for this year’s event have been very difficult for the EUFS team due to Covid pandemic restrictions. Rokas Giedraitis, EUFS Artificial Intelligence (AI) Team Manager commented, “The first time the team was able to meet up together all year was at the event at Silverstone. We have worked remotely as smaller teams, meeting online for a large proportion of the year. When Covid restrictions lifted we only had a short amount of time to build and test our car and we gained access to the labs late in May. It has been quite a challenge but the team has pulled together and adapted well.”
More about the EUFS autonomous team
The EUFS team started developing their first electrically powered autonomous race car remotely based on the chassis from their manned, combustion engined car from the 2019 competition. Rokas continued, “We realised that the autonomous car we were building would not pass the strict scrutiny applied to compete safely in the dynamic missions. Therefore, we decided to enter our car as a static-only entry, meaning we completed all the formal presentations on design, vehicle status and business reports but did not enter the final dynamic events. This strategy proved very useful as we received feedback on our designs and now understand more fully what is required for an autonomous electric powered entry, all of which we can implement for next year’s competition. This year not many teams were at the stage of building their own electrically powered autonomous car so we managed to win the trophy for the ADS class, and no other team was ready to enter the dynamic events either. It was fantastic that we won the ADS class static events and ADS class overall. The whole experience meeting at the competition at Silverstone continued to build our experience and boost motivation after a demanding year.”
Important learnings for the DDT team
The DDT team competed in the dynamic events using the autonomous vehicle platform provided by the organisers to gain experience and further inspire the software team. Rokas added, “Unfortunately none of the University teams were able to successfully complete the dynamic events, mostly due to a lack of testing time with the car, but I can confidently say that we came the closest. This experience helped us to understand the improvements we need to make in our software, simulation environment and hardware-software integration during development next year.”
Mapix technologies sponsors EUFS
Mapix technologies have been Platinum sponsors of the University of Edinburgh student team since 2017 providing a Velodyne Puck LiDAR sensor and mentoring support for their autonomous team. Gert Riemersma, founder and CTO of Mapix technologies based in Edinburgh, commented, “It has been extremely satisfying to watch the team make incremental leaps forward with their autonomous car development over the past four years. I am delighted the autonomous team continue to be successful winning the trophy to add to their wins in 2018, 2019 and 2020. Well done! We look forward to working with the team again once they return from the summer break.”