Eleven months after the decision to participate at the Formula Student Driverless the time has come: Formula Student Germany was around the corner. Up until then, we had managed to integrate a second project into AMZ and teach flüela how to drive autonomously. Even before the start of the competition, we were proud of our achievements within the short time frame and were looking forward to present it on the big platform.
Due to the novelty of the competition, it was difficult to assess the project’s progress. Accordingly, we had to work extremely hard to ensure a competitive level of performance.
The plan seems to have succeeded: We reach the podium in each of the eight disciplines. We win five of them. With this basis, we are the fortunates to celebrate the overall championship in the driverless category.

Final Preparations

The last weeks before the peak of the season passed quickly. The implementation and commissioning of advanced driving modes, which use the information of the first lap, turned out to be great fun. For the first time flüela was brought to its limits and we could observe slipping tires. The team brought up further ideas to make the autonomous driving even more powerful. Most of it, however, was set aside. We deemed it best to focus on different things for the big event at the Hockenheimring. While a driver handles a change of environment relatively easily, we were less certain about that for the autonomous system. What happens if the GPS signal is lost? Do the LiDAR and the image analysis algorithms reliably remove the ground cones from all possible environments? The emphasis was set on reliability. With test days at BMW in Maisach, in Boxberg near Bosch and ETAS and together with municHMotorsport and Starkstrom Augsburg in Wemding, we have also tested our system in various new environments. Nothing can go wrong anymore, right?

Bad Luck with the Weather

Until the event start we spent a total of one test day in the rain. That this one was filled with problems means red light. Flexibility is required. According to the forecast, the entire Thursday is overshadowed by medium-strong rainfall. The clear strategy is to drive as soon as possible and collect data to analyse. We thus start at 01:10pm as the first team in the first autonomous discipline, the acceleration race. The interest of the present Formula Student Community is high. However, the dynamic team, which prepares flüela for the run, cannot be distracted. In a trained routine, they push the vehicle to the starting position, start the algorithms, position the safety responsible with the mobile emergency button behind the vehicle and start the run. flüela jumps off the starting line, but quickly reaches her maximum speed, which we limited for safety reasons. Shortly after it turns aside and runs into a series of cones. The Emergency Stop button is pressed immediately. DNF – did not finish.

Autonomous Future

We would like to thank all those who have supported us on this way. We took the project as a wonderful, big challenge and we are proud of our results. We reached all set goals at the beginning of the season. One of these goals was to have the project continue at the end of the year. In this respect, we are pleased to announce that we will compete with a new team in the next year. Once again, we will give our best to push autonomous racing further. We would be delighted to be able to count on your support once again!

Read more about our wild ride at the Hockenheimring: Download Newsletter English (.pdf)