Delft Driverless - supporting the future of engineering

Leading the way in digital transformation also means supporting the future generation of engineers achieve greatness. We are a proud gold sponsor of the Delft Driverless team. These students are building a self-driving electric race car together with a team from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). This project is exciting as it connects people, processes and systems in a way that is still highly innovative. Read on to keep track of the team’s progress.

Second place during first race in Italy

The first race of the Formula Student Competition took place in Italy. Safety is key of course, so the first step for the Delft Driverless team was the ‘scrutineering’ stage in which all cars were thoroughly checked and tested for safety. This includes an electrical system check, a tilt test and a rain test. All were successfully completed by the Delft Driverless team so they could enter the next stage with a business presentation, design judging and in the end of course the competition on the track. The Delft Driverless team did well; they ended in second place overall, were first for design and the car also won an extra prize for ‘Best integration between powertrain and chassis controls’.

Rollout

The official presentation of the Delft Driverless car took place in Delft on Friday 14 June. After having worked on the self-driving car for eight months, it was ready to be presented to the public on the market square in the city center of Delft. It was a special moment because it was the first autonomous race car built in Delft Student Teams’ history.

Getting ready

The Delft Driverless team is getting ready to finish the car so as to start testing and perfecting it. An exciting time as on 14 June the car has to be ready of its presentation to the world.

In the middle of this, MaxGrip organized a team visit with 80 colleagues. It was great to be connect our knowledge and experience with young talent and great ideas. It was clear from the start that Delft Driverless and MaxGrip have a shared mentality: let’s get the job done. The video to the left gives an overview of what Delft Driverless is and what they do.

The driverless challenge

The Delft Driverless team has chosen to use the DUT18, last year’s electric race car. The team is working on transforming the car into an autonomously driving vehicle.  All typical driver actions have to be substituted with automatic counterparts. Think of steering, accelerating and braking.

In addition, the existing electronics have to be reworked into a driverless-proof version. When the DUT18 was used last year, it had a carefully optimized power management system. Low voltage systems, such as the LiDAR, cameras and processing units will consume much more energy than the system is used to. Moreover, the autonomous races will require less charge to supply the tractive system.

The engineering challenge

Delft Driverless will race other teams on a race track in Germany this Summer with the aim of keeping the car on track and setting the fastest track time. There are three main challenges that the team has to tackle. Firstly, the car needs to understand its direct environment. So the cones between which the car has to stay are recognized. Secondly, these readings need to be recorded to build a map. In that way the team can localize the car on the track, which is not known beforehand. Lastly, when you know where you are and what the track looks like, you will also have to be able to plan the route of the car.

The design presentation

In January the Delft Driverless team together with the Electric Formula Race Car team, gave their design presentations. Delft Driverless is the first Dutch team that will participate in the Driverless Competition, making them pioneers. The team wanted to embark on this challenge because they enjoy working on something new especially as autonomous driving is also a ‘hot topic’.

Chief Engineer and Team Manager Rutger van den Berg talked about the team and the approach for the new first driverless electric race car. This video shows his 10-minute presentation on the main focus points of building such a car: perception, SLAM (localization), motion planning, vehicle controls, electronics, embedded software and mechatronics.

Getting there first is what counts

“About 95% of all the research on autonomous driving is on road behaviour,” says MIT team captain Kulik. “In the FSD competition we don’t bother with other vehicles or hard to predict pedestrians. Getting there first is what counts. That’s what pushes technology forward.”

The MIT and TU Delft team managers did a joint interview with Delta, the journalistic platform of TU Delft.

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