Eindhoven University of Technology: URE’s new race car; more aerodynamic, more powerful and faster

Student team University Racing Eindhoven (URE) has picked up where it left off after an eventful year. Last academic year, URE won the competition for autonomous racing cars on the Formula 1 circuit in Barcelona, but unfortunately the winning car (URE15) burned down completely during a test drive shortly afterwards. With a more powerful new race car, the URE16, the students are once again fighting for the podium in both the autonomous and electric classes of the Formula Student competition.

“The URE15 burndown was of course a huge disappointment,” says team manager Joos Kat about the incident at a test track in Lommel, where fortunately no one was injured. “The team did become closer because of it. Fortunately, everything is well documented, so a lot of knowledge was retained. We also learned from it and made the car safer. For example, there is now a fire extinguisher in the battery itself, so if something goes wrong it can extinguish itself, more or less.”

Presentation URE16
That’s not the only change, as was evident during the presentation of the URE16. The team made seveal changes in other areas. Because the electric racing monster will be racing both with and without a driver, a so-called ‘flip of a switch’ system has been developed. This ensures that the car changes into an autonomous vehicle within seconds and vice versa. Kat: “It’s just a matter of inserting or removing a bolt. For example, the sensors are now built in, so the flip only takes a few seconds instead of the few hours it took to convert the URE15.”

Both the battery pack and the motors have been redesigned, including a voltage upgrade from 400 to 600. “In combination with the new motors, this makes the car accelerate faster,” Kat says proudly. “Where the previous car accelerated from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour in 2.3 seconds, this one takes 0.2 seconds less. That also makes us faster on the track.”

In addition, the four-wheeler is narrower and longer than its predecessor, with a tapered design for less drag. This new design leads to more downforce, which allows for faster cornering.

And then there are the improvements to the hardware and software for autonomous racing. The new sensors and the self-learning system on the camera are now capable of detecting and recognizing the road even better. Kat: “So the race car is able to see more clearly where it is without a driver. That makes the car a lot more reliable.”

It is logical that this year the team wants to compete for prizes again in the Formula Student competition, a tournament in which URE takes on other student teams from all over the world. Last year, the team was successful by winning the first-ever autonomous race in Barcelona.

This year, the team is participating in three races, at the well-known race circuits Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain (autonomous race), the Hockenheimring in Germany (both autonomous and electric race) and the TT circuit Assen (electric race). Kat: “We are looking forward to those taces enormously with this new car.”