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December - Byebye 2020
After a year full of ups and downs, the year finally draws to an end. The month of December was one that very accurately summarizes the year 2020. With lots of advancements for the team, there also were setbacks which threw a spanner in the works. Quick thinking and teamwork eventually got us through these moments. Read in this edition how the month of December went down for URE.
 
Testing
URE started the month of December with great enthusiasm. The car was revealed and finished, ready for the first month of thorough testing. Lots of new systems were installed on the URE15. After every day of testing, the team came back with full to-do lists of improvements to make the car even better. With each iteration, the lists got smaller, and the car faster and more reliable. Eventually, even a first day of driver training was done in order to get a first feeling for the new car.
Unfortunately, not everything went as smoothly as that. A day before one of the test days, we noticed that some final drive oil had leaked into one of the motors. This resulted in large maintenance to the motors, where the rotor and stator had to be separated.
After thorough cleaning, the motor was reassembled, and the rest of the scheduled testing days could be held.
At the same time, a set of new motors was present at our motor testbench. Here, we can accurately measure the performance of our electrical machines. Also, it gives us a safe testing site to turn our new motors for the first time, as well as implement new motor controllers and precisely measure how it compares to a different controller version. Unfortunately, there were some problems with the setup, which caused some delay in the implementation on the car. While the URE15 already has some decent speed, the improved 4 wheel drive system will give its performance an additional boost!
Driverless
While we had some struggles with the Electric-car side of the team, the driverless developments were going steady. Improvements are being made in all aspects of the autonomous systems: from vision, to track detection and controls.
To highlight one improvement, we are working on implementing a completely new vehicle controller. Since we have been steadily stepping up the speed of our driverless car, the system is in need of a new controller. It will give the car more stability at higher velocities, increase its robustness, and react better to the vehicle condition at every instance. With this, it is important to accurately model the vehicle and measure some specific vehicle parameters. We did this with a set of tests, one of which you can see in action at the bottom of this newsletter.
Up till now, all driverless test days have been with our previous car, the URE14. This has been our driverless car for the past two years. Right now, we are making the final preparations needed to make the first autonomous meters of the URE15. All new hardware is already assembled and tested in the past few weeks. The steering actuator, as well as Emergency Brake System, have undergone complete redesigns. With these new and improved systems, as well as numerous software upgrades, the URE15 in driverless form will be faster, more reliable, and easier to maintain.
Lockdown #2
On the evening of the 14th of December, everyone in the Netherlands was watching the television in suspense of the announcement of our Prime Minister Rutte. He announced what we were all afraid of: a second lockdown in the Netherlands. While it was still vague what the concrete effects would be for URE and our workshop, the board decided to sit together and make concrete plans for the upcoming lockdown period, assuming the worst-case scenario. The next day, we started early to pack all essential items and tools, and get ready to leave our workshop. This was done while simultaneously searching for an alternative location, and eagerly looking out for an official announcement by the university.
In the evening, around 19.00, we finally got the good news that we could stay in our workshop! While all stress and hard work had been for nothing, the team was relieved.
Of course, the announced lockdown still had consequences for our team. The safety measures were sharpened once again, making it even tougher to work and be together. However, the team will continue to work, meet and socialize online.
Looking forward
Today marks the first lockdown day after the Christmas break. The team will continue working from home to make the conversion of the URE15 from Electric to Driverless mode a success.
During the Christmas holiday, a number of competition events have announced the date on which their registration quiz will be held. These will be done fully online, and therefore be a bigger challenge this year since all discussions cannot be done with the full team in the same room. The team will start preparing as well as possible for these since the outcome of these quizzes will eventually decide what the competitive summer of URE will look like.
 
 
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University Racing Eindhoven · Horsten 8 · Momentum 0.161c · Eindhoven, Noord-Brabant 5612 AX · Netherlands

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