Dart Racing – New team, new goals!

08. Feb 2018 | Technology + Products

The TU Darmstadt Dart Racing Team was founded in 2005 by a group from Darmstadt Technical University in Germany. Since 2006, we have successfully participated in the international design competition Formula Student. This competition is not just about having the fastest car on the track. There are many points up for grabs in other areas, too. The teams must present the design process behind their vehicle, along with a fictional business plan and a cost report for all installed components, to a jury consisting of academic and industrial figures. A true challenge![widget_block_right id="SM"]

Constant improvement – Carbon helps reduce weight by 100 kg

Dart Racing took part in its first competition in Germany just one year after its foundation. Known as the “alpha2006”, the team’s car featured a combustion engine and a frame clad in glass-fibre-reinforced plastic. Just one year later, we took a huge step forward by collaborating with industry. We were one of the first teams to produce a carbon-fibre-reinforced polymer monocoque, technology also used in Formula 1. The use of this material, also known simply as carbon, together with self-designed aluminium rims and changes to the engine and chassis, helped us reduce the vehicle’s weight by 100 kg compared to the previous year.

Carbon continued to play an important role in the following years, and was used in other areas of the vehicle. In 2008, for example, both the rims and the control arm were made from this new material. The “gamma2009” was one of the strongest in the field, winning the Dynamometer Performance Award in Hockenheim. This was achieved through changes to the injection system and its airbox.

Over the next three years, Dart Racing continued to develop, successfully participating in competitions across Europe.

Torque vectoring and wheel hub motors – Electric race car technology

With the launch of the electric class in Hockenheim in 2011, the team decided to enter an electric vehicle alongside our conventional car “zeta2011”. The previous year’s vehicle, “epsilon2010”, was retrofitted with a battery and electric motors. Our first electric race car offered an output of 60 kW on the road, and electrified the entire team. In the following year, we decided to concentrate entirely on this new technology and developed our own battery pack. We also made aerodynamic improvements with our own underbody.

In 2013, we waved goodbye to conventional drive train design and switched to a system with two rear motors. The new system allowed us to use torque vectoring for the first time. This technology distributes power dynamically to the individual motors, increasing the vehicle’s manoeuvrability and performance.

In the 2014 season, we developed a new chassis that weighed just 18 kg. This would go on to become an important element for the team in the next three years. The period between 2014 and 2016 also saw a number of important developments in electronics. We developed our own electric motor, as well as a battery management system integrated in the battery. We also turned our attention to the chassis and the vehicle’s aerodynamic performance.

For the 2017 season, we completed the long-overdue overhaul of the drive system. Instead of a rear-wheel drive with two electric motors, the new system saw each wheel fitted with its own wheel hub motor. With this new drive system, together with new, self-developed 13” Pirelli tyres, Dart Racing took part in the FS East, Formula Student Germany and Formula Student Spain competitions. The new drive system delivered some important insights.


The future is driverless

Since 2017, we have been participating in a new vehicle class, as Germany played host to the first ever race between driverless vehicles. This competition sees fully autonomous vehicles driving in a closed-off area, with no human intervention.

Here, we retrofitted our vehicle from 2016, also known as the “lambda”. We fitted additional processing power and extra sensors in the form of a stereo camera and a self-developed steering and braking actuator system. One important requirement was that the vehicle could still be driven by a person. As a result, we had to redevelop the vehicle’s packaging and shift some components into the side compartments.

A preview of Dart Racing new vehicle

The most important change for this year is in the team’s organisational structure. With two vehicles and a single team, we have to find two people for every job in order to devote the necessary attention to each car. As a result, the team has grown significantly. With our team of around 70 mechanical engineering, electronics and IT students, we are now working hard on “ny2018” and “lambda-D2018”. Although we have two vehicles, we work as a single team, sharing knowledge and lending a helping hand.

For the 2018 season, we have optimised the weight of the electric vehicle and improved the packaging design. We have also developed a new aerodynamics package. Further improvements and additions have been made to the vehicle’s sensors.

The D-team, meanwhile, has completely reworked the sensors and expanded them with a lidar system. Performance of the trajectory planning, the vehicle’s navigation system, has also been optimised.

The 2018 season got off to a successful start on 22 January. This day saw the quiz for the events, at which teams had to answer questions to win a coveted spot at the competition. Here, the E-team won a place at FS East in Hungary, FS Austria and Formula Student Germany. The new “Driverless” competition will also take place in Hungary and Italy. Our D-team were able to register for all three events. After such a successful start to the season, the team is now focusing all its efforts on the production phase.

We would like to thank Herth+Buss for presenting our team to its blog readers and also like to express our thanks for the support from Herth+Buss products that help us create our vehicles. We look forward to sharing our experiences in the 2018 season in the Herth+Buss blog.

David Baran
 for Herth+Buss