A big challenge when competing in such a competition is testing. You only have one pod and therefore, need to assure that you don’t damage it during tests in early stages. Also, it wasn't possible to fly to Los Angeles to conduct tests. How did you assure that the pod is working as intended with these restrictions?
That’s absolutely correct. The actual track is 10,000km away in Los Angeles, and the first and only time we can have a run with full power is during the finals. It’s like a rocket launch: Nothing can go wrong. There are no second chances. Therefore, it is even more important to thoroughly test the pod in advance. Starting with FEM, CFD, and system simulations including testing single components on test benches that we developed on our own. For example, a brake test bench for a Formula 1 cars goes up to 400km/h, which is too low for us. The same goes for the test bench of the propulsion units. We also had to invent a way to determine the discharge behavior of the batteries.
After thoroughly testing all subsystems, we started assembling the pod. In the final phase of testing, we tested the pod on our own 300m long track on campus, which is of course not comparable to the actual track in Los Angeles.
One more important question was how to advance the development of the electronics system and software, even though many mechanical components were still in an iteration loop and many sensors and actuators undefined? That’s where the Speedgoat machine came into play.