„The speed is intoxicating, the risk beckons, and some machine has just flown by”: these are words from a song by Czech singer Daniel Landa. And these words fit the theme of eForce. The reason is simple: eForce is a monopost, or formula if you like, built by a group of students. And it is a sacred truth that speed is intoxicating, and feeling the wind in your hair is one of the most pleasant feelings in the world.
From the first screw to the programming of the control units
The cause of the success is a team of fifty students from the Czech Technical University in Prague. Their team started building the first electrically powered racing formula in 2010. However, the team has changed over the years, and only a few members of the original development group remain in the current squad.
But the 50-member team is not a monolithic group. The project involves students from many fields of study, most often from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering or the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the Czech Technical University. The team’s structure also corresponds to this university composition and the needs of the eForce project. It consists of an electrical engineering group, a mechanical group, and a driverless group, with the support of an IT group, a project group, and faculty coordinators. Each of the groups contributes skills from its field to the formula project. They all contribute with what they do best.
As a result of this diversity of expertise, the groups were able to form a team to build both formulas from the initial drawing, through construction and wiring, to the actual programming of the autonomous systems.
One team, two formulas, two different projects
Yes, you heard right. The team of the Czech Technical University built not just one racing formula but even two! The first was an electric formula with the FSE designation, which reached its 11th version in 2022. And the FSE.11 is really fast. It can accelerate from zero to 50 km/h in 1.25 seconds and to 100 km/h in less than three seconds, which is better than the famous Porsche or Ferrari cars. According to the current settings, the top speed is approximately 125 km/h.
The second model from the eForce stable is the DV.01 formula. DV stands for „driverless vehicle,” and it is a brand new 2021 creation. DV.01 does not need a driver; it drives itself and is fully autonomous. It is aided by cameras and sensors connected with lidar to help the vehicle orient itself in space. Like the FSE.11, it is an electrically powered vehicle that can reach the same speed.
What are formulas for, if not for racing?
Not only do students learn practical skills by building formulas, but they also have a chance to prove their abilities to the world. They also have the opportunity to race and compete worldwide with their creations. The Formula Student competition was created in the United States in 1981 for this very purpose.
The first Formula Student competition in Europe was held in 1998. The races and competitions take place worldwide, with over 800 university teams from all over the world participating in them with self-built race formulas. To win the competition, you need more than just a fast formula. The judges compare the whole mix of design, performance, budgeting, development, and marketing plan. And since 2010, pure electric vehicles have been eligible to enter the competition.
The Czech team has participated in several dozen races and competitions in its thirteen years. And the result has always been very satisfying. They even beat their student colleagues from the famous MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in one race in the USA. In most cases, they have placed in the first three places, and in more than 20 cases, they have won first place.
But the work of the eForce team never seems to end. Everyone is still working on improving the formulas, better use of electricity, and a more intuitive autonomous system. For the future, we wish the eForce team lots of creative ideas, electricity, autonomy, and many more races won.