November 26, 2021
TUfast: With the first electric driverless vehicle through the Formula Student season 2021
This year the TUfast Racing Team of the Technical University of Munich built a race car that could compete in competitions in both the Electric and Driverless categories for the first time. We find out in the interview everything about the course of the season, its heights, the challenges to be mastered and what an excellent team spirit can achieve.
Reilhofer KG: Hello Verena, you were the team manager of the TUfast Racing Team in the 2021 season. This year – in contrast to last year – races took place again. Looking back, what were the challenges of this season?
Verena Höfler: The 2021 season was something very special for us and also a great challenge. On the one hand, we had to deal with the corona-related impairments. On the other hand, we had set ourselves the goal of building a race car for the first time in the history of TUfast that could compete in competitions in both the Electric and Driverless categories. And of course, the car should convince with strong concepts and also be able to call up the performance at the competitions.
With the winter semester, we started our CAD phase at the beginning of November 2020, mainly in home office. By using the digital possibilities, we managed to get to know each other and develop a sense of community. First of all, the concepts and ideas drawn up in the previous months were implemented. Then we started with a task force for producing the monocoque, following all hygiene concepts of course. It felt good to be back in the workshop! Step by step, more chassis components could be brought to our car. The rolling chassis was then celebrated in a big way. A big thank you to all of our sponsors who made this possible for us despite the difficult situation!
In the weeks before the rollout, our aerodynamics team was in the workshop day and night so that we could present a visually appealing vehicle to the public. Unfortunately, it was only held online this year again. Nevertheless, there was great interest in our car and we were pleased to receive a lot of positive feedback. Despite the tight timeline, thanks to the great commitment of our guys from the E-Powertrain and Electronics Team, we were able to get the car ready in good time and take part in the competitions.
RHF: The FS Netherlands competition took place at the beginning of July. Have you already started your new car there?
Verena Höfler: No, our predecessors from the 2020 season also competed with their eb020 and took part in the Netherlands and in FS Germany.
The experienced crew of eb020 was able to complete the scrutineering without any problems and qualified very quickly for the dynamic events at the FSN. But then there were problems with the converter and the car could not continue to drive at first. With the support of the team members who stayed at home, however, the car could be converted from all-wheel to front-wheel drive and then also start in the other disciplines. We achieved third place in engineering design. Overall, we were able to finish the competition with 8th place.
In August the eb020 started again at FS Germany. The scrutineering went almost flawlessly. Then, however, the left suspension broke first and then the monocoque in the brake test. After a crisis meeting and nocturnal repairs with the help of KAraceIng, we passed the acceptance the next day and were then able to take second and fourth place in Skidpad and Acceleration. We started with the AutoX motivated. Unfortunately, due to the overuse, another part of the monocoque broke at the first break, so we had to start repairs again. We got it to our endurance slot just in time and were able to finish it with the best efficiency! We also won first place in engineering design, which we were particularly pleased about. Overall, we were able to achieve 2nd place in this competition – thanks to the special performance of our team and the support of the Karlsruhe team.
RHF: And how did it go with the new xb021?
Verena Höfler: The xb021 started at FS Austria at the end of July. That was the first time our 2021 team took part in a competition. Unfortunately, we did not manage to complete the scrutineering for all disciplines in time. But we were able to start at AutoX and Endurance. Because of a spin in the 6th lap, the endurance could not be completed. Despite the many complications and a good performance in the statics, we asserted ourselves against very strong competition and ended up in 20th place overall. Even if we weren’t able to fully exploit our potential here, we gained a lot of new and valuable experience.
At the beginning of August we were already on the Hungaroring. Based on the knowledge gained from the competition in Austria, we completed the scrutineering on time and also in all dynamic disciplines. We were also able to score at the static events and our business plan took a fantastic second place! Unfortunately, we then had a technical problem with the endurance and could not continue after the 2nd lap. As a result, we only finished 19th overall in Hungary.
RHF: When was the next competition and how did it go for you?
Verena Höfler: The last competition of the season was postponed to October. The statics were kept online. Only the dynamic disciplines took place on site in Italy. We put in a solid performance in the statics. The very tight schedule on site demanded a lot from the well-rehearsed crew, but it was manageable. Various problems arose again, so we first had to convert from all-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive. Later we were forced to convert to front-wheel drive to relieve the brakes. We were able to achieve the fifth fastest time in the AutoX, which secured us a good starting position for the Endurance. Without any further technical problems, we achieved third place in the Endurance and in Efficiency we achieved first place. Thanks to the joint efforts of the on-site team and the team at home, we were able to finish the season with a second place.
We also received the Lamborghini Special Award for “Best lightweight solution in chassis”.
RHF: Congratulations! It’s nice when the great effort is rewarded with prizes. None of this would have been possible without the very impressive teamwork. Despite the corona regulations, the team was able to perform at its best, acted thoughtfully but also responded flexibly to problems that occurred. What is your conclusion from the season that lies behind you?
Verena Höfler: The 2021 season was a great challenge for everyone. But we had our goals in mind and have grown together as a team over time and beyond. While difficulties kept coming up, giving up was never an option.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the entire team again for their tireless efforts. It was so much fun! Thanks to everyone who helped us make these priceless experiences and memories!