The University of Bath is set to become the first institution to compete in Formula Student’s electric, combustion and autonomous categories when the event takes place this weekend.
While young engineers from the university have been involved in the combustion and electric events for several years, this year they collaborated with computer science students to develop an autonomous entry for the first time. Team Bath Racing Electric (TBRe) will run the new autonomous vehicle alongside its latest electric racer, while the combustion engine car from Team Bath Racing (TBR) completes the trio of entries into Formula Student UK, taking place from 17-21 July at Silverstone.
During the event, the autonomous vehicles will be put through their paces in a series of racing challenges and static tests where students will be asked to consider scenarios that the self-driving cars of the future will have to negotiate.
The TBRe autonomous team could have chosen to develop a prototype car supplied by Formula Student, but instead opted to create their car entirely in-house, using last year’s TBRe car as a base to work from – adding the necessary sensors and hardware, removing the driver’s cockpit and remodelling the bodywork.
“The whole team is extremely excited to see what we can achieve this summer,” said TBRe project manager, Kieran Shopland. “We’ve combined the reliability of last year’s car with a significant mass reduction to give what we believe could be a winning combination.
“With sights set on the top 10 at this year’s UK event, there is significant optimisation through testing to be done prior to the competition but we are all eager to continue working on this in order to achieve our goals.”
Formula Student, run by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), is Europe’s most established educational motorsport competition and tests students’ skills in engineering, design and construction of a racing car, as well their ability to raise funding, develop a business case and race at world-class circuits. Bath teams have a good record in the event, with TBR becoming the first UK team to win a Formula Student event in 2016 – achieving a ranking of 6th in the world out of over 500 teams – and TBRe placing first among the UK electric teams in the past two years.