Successful race debut for self-driving racing car

​After one year of preparation, the Chalmers team was set to put their self-driving racing car on trial in the Formula Student Driverless competition in Germany. As the only first-year team, their car completed all inspections and brought home a worthy fifth place in one of the racing moments.
“It was real fun. A lot of work, but real fun”, summarizes Martin Baerveldt, one of the members of Chalmers first Formula Student Driverless team.
Together with eleven other students from a total of five different master's programs, he has rebuilt the electric race car from last year's Formula Student Competition for self-driving. In August the ordeal took place: the prestigious Formula Student Driverless competition in Hockenheim, Germany.

The competition took place for the first time in 2017, but this year was the first that Chalmers participated. Out of 17 competing cars, Chalmers was one of nine, and sole newcomer, who completed all inspections and safety checks and got to participate in the actual racing moments.

Hopeful and nervous, the team stood by the side while the car drove completely on its own on the track. Most successful was the skidpad driving, that is, driving as fast as possible on a track shaped like an eight.

"But what I enjoyed most was to talk to the other teams and see what they had developed. And to show what we had been working for over a year”, says Martin Baerveldt.

Now he has left Chalmers and gone out to work. Like many of his teammates, he has got a job through his role in the team, more specifically as a consultant in the automotive industry.

At Chalmers, a new team of fourteen students from eight different master programs has taken over the relay pin. They can further develop and compete with the same car as long as they make significant changes to the software.

"It gives them a longer time to test and improve the performance of the car. And the expectations of reaching a better performance in next year's competition will be higher, says Ziwei Huang.

She was in the team behind this year's car, and during this autumn she functions as a bridge to the new team.

"Being part of the team was a fantastic experience. I really appreciated applying my academic skills and designing a real, functional racing car. And I'm so proud of the team – we started from scratch, drove the project and made all the important decisions ourselves”, she says.

In June 2019 there will be a chance to apply to the team of the academic year 2019–2020. For those who are really eager, there might even be a possibility to join this year's team.

"It is aimed primarily at last year students. The team needs many different skills, and you do not need to have specialised in self-driving vehicles – the idea is also to learn, says Ola Benderius, supervisor of the Formula Student Driverless team.

Read more about the work of the Formula Student Driverless team in "Students build self-driving race car".

Text: Ingela Roos
Photo: Weiming Li / Chalmers Formula Student Driverless

Published: Wed 12 Sep 2018.