Shell EcoMarathon

Hi everybody, Sasha here again! Now that the climax of last year is already a couple of months behind us, and we all took a well-deserved holiday, the time is more than ripe to bring you up to speed with all the achievements of the Eco-Runner Team. For those who have been following our FaceBook and Instagram, the general story might be old news, but I’ll take a deep dive in my personal experience as well, to keep it fresh. For those not following us, make sure to do so!

After a boat trip on StenaLine Hollandica and a couple of hour drive we arrived in the London Olympic park, our ‘battle arena’ for the next few days. Having set up our workshop on site, our engineers started working on the Eco-Runner 8, to prepare it for the safety and security tests. Luckily for them, our workshop was right next to a drinking-fountain, so we didn’t have to walk far to water in the scorching sun. For me life was even easier as I could sit inside an airconditioned building with my laptop, one of the many perks of being a software engineer!

There were a lot of things that still needed to happen, a lot of code that needed to be written. The data-transfer from the Eco-Runner was not coming through to the Ground-Base the way we wanted it and the GPS-sensor was not outputting the right data. Together with the Electronics and Software department, the Strategy department stayed for long hours till late in the evening in the workshop coding. In the meantime, Vehicle Dynamics were optimizing alignment, and Powertrain was checking the Fuel-Cell controller. Oftentimes, we were just in time to grab the last bus back to the camp site.

On the camp site, we had different teams arranging the dinner for the night. One time we even had a BBQ, which was delicious! The problem only was that during our BBQ session, the fire-alarm was rang somewhere on the campsite and we had to evacuate. We obviously decided to take our amazing food with us (with some sauces obviously!), and we were more than happy to eat it at a different location.

Now as Chief Strategy, I had some specific tasks during the race and the preparation. For one I had multiple long meetings with the driver, to discuss the strategy they will be using. To do so we took different trips along the track, finding orientation points and track obstacles. Every time they drove a practice run, we re-iterated the strategy based on their experience and collected data.

During the race itself I had the wonderful task to keep in touch with the driver and instruct him or her how to change their driving to get most out of it. To do so this we stood on a bridge above the track, to have a complete overview of both the Eco-Runner and the other vehicles on track. This was not without results as the drivers said to feel more comfortable and performed better, when they were helped with on track choices and guidance.

As a result of the efforts we managed to achieve a third place in the competition, which is a step back to the top for the team. While there is still more to tell, and I’m sure to do so in a future blog, I have to round this one up! Hope to see you back at a future post.