Presentation of the Driving Strategy
Hi Tina, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to Sonnenwagen?
Hi, I’m Tina, 21 years old and I’m studying computer science in my fourth semester at RWTH. I was born in the Cologne area and moved to Aachen for my studies about a year and a half ago.
I already became aware of Sonnenwagen in my first semester as part of the student initiatives here in Aachen. At that time, however, there was unfortunately not enough time to get involved alongside my studies. Nevertheless, it was already clear to me: I definitely want to be part of such a great project. And when I followed the race in Australia in 2019 via social media, I was gripped by the enthusiasm for this unique project. To be one of more than 50 teams taking up the challenge of developing a car that crosses an entire continent solely powered by the sun. And I am lucky to be a part of this outstanding team now.
Driving strategy is a wide field, can you briefly explain what you do at Team Sonnenwagen?
Our main task in driving strategy is to find the best possible way for our car to reach the finish line. Because no matter how well the car is constructed, it’s no use standing at the side of the road with an empty battery.
In order to determine this optimal driving style, we consider not only the weather but also the altitude profile and the exact course of the racetrack and use these to calculate a speed profile. The driver should then follow this speed curve as precisely as possible to cross the finish line efficiently and hopefully as the first team to cross the finish line with the sun at our disposal.
This gives us many other tasks, such as communicating with the driver and the rest of our convoy during the race or ensuring a reasonably stable Internet connection in the Australian outback, which can be a tricky task in the middle of nowhere.
With the end of the World Solar Challenge and the subsequent recruitment of a new team, we are now at the beginning of the development of the next solar car. What are the tasks of your department?
Currently we are very busy evaluating the data we collected during the WSC. The recorded track data must be cleaned up from errors or gaps must be completed so that we can use it for our calculations for the upcoming race. The same happens with our weather measurements.
At the same time, we develop new concepts or improve the current ones for the best possible driving strategy. This includes, for example, developing a new radio protocol to further improve communication with the driver. This is particularly relevant for the upcoming European Solar Challenge. But we are also currently evaluating completely new concepts, such as an autopilot, which is intended to bring the calculated speed profile even better onto the road.
The solar car has not yet been designed and developed. Does that mean that you still have the time off?
Fortunately not. While the concepts for the next car are being designed, we are just as motivated to work on new concepts for the driving strategy. Because just like our Son
nenwagen, these must be tested extensively after development.
We also try to provide the best possible support for the design of the car with the data we gathered in the last race. This includes external parameters like the weather conditions and internal parameters like a lighter or heavier battery and the respective effect on the performance on our solar car.
What are you most looking forward to during the season?
I think I’m looking forward most to the moment when, after all the hard work and time and passion invested by the whole team, the concept for the new car is finally ready and we can start production. At the latest at the time of production, all departments work together on the project and you grow together as a team in a completely different way. But I’m just as excited about the moment when the car is finally finished, and we can rock the race in Australia together!