«Success through innovation» - the maxim for gotthard, a reflection of the most important principle in the first ten years of the AMZ’s success story. The main concept of gotthard was born in 2016 full of radical improvements and pushed the limits of autonomous racing in 2018.
A new suspension system was developed, including MRF dampers and a “third element”, the heave spring, which allows independent control of heave and pitch movement of the car. The overall packaging concept was revolutionized to improve weight distribution and lower the centre of gravity, while allowing for a larger rear diffuser to be integrated in the chassis. Together with a new cooling concepts, with radiators in the rear of the car, aerodynamic performance was also optimised.
The efficiency of the drivetrain was further increased, thanks to self-developed motors (in their 6th evolution) and a new, smaller high voltage accumulator, optimized to the less energy consuming driverless challenge. The accumulator reduction led to weight saving and more space for the computing system. A self-developed battery management system, which uses light-based communication, ensured safe operation and optimal battery usage.
For the car to drive autonomously, three global shutter cameras and one LiDAR sensor perceive the environment. Two computers, sitting in the front of the chassis, process the data from the sensors and the velocity estimation from a dual antenna INS and an optical speed sensor to produce a map of the track and to localise the car. The fastest path through the cones is then computed and driven by a Model Predictive Controller.
The control actions are actuated through the wheel-mounted motors and a rack-mounted electrical steering actuator. A hydro-pneumatic Emergency Braking System guarantees that in case of any failure, the vehicle comes to a safe stop in the shortest distance possible. All developed algorithms are tested on AMZ’s Automated Testing System before being implemented on the car. This endures efficient software development.
Great effort was required from the team to achieve the transformation of gotthard into an award-winning autonomous race car. Setbacks alternated with achievements, but the team always stayed strong, humble and aware of the size of the challenge.
The first success came at Formula SAE Italy, where gotthard won the Driverless class. Preparation continued to undertake the Formula Student Germany competition, where defending the title obtained by flüela in 2017 was proven hard given the tough field. The back-to-back victory at FSG made history when eiger also conquered first place in the Electric class, making it the first time one team wins two classes of the same event.