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08/31/2017

Schanzer Racing Driverless at the Formula Student at the Hockenheimring

The Driverless Series team has had a tough few weeks. The 15-member “Driverless Division”, comprised of software programmers, mechanics, electronics engineers and industrial engineers, has been working on the autonomous “SRd 17” since March 2017. Working on the basis of deep neural networks, a sub-discipline of machine learning, the students are attempting, in the course of the development process, to teach the race car autonomous driving functions and to endow it with a sort of artificial intelligence. To do this, they’re implementing the NVIDIA Drive PX2-KI-Computing platform, the most advanced development platform for driverless vehicles in the world. It combines deep learning, sensor fusion and surround vision. This should enable the vehicle to use every single drive it takes as a learning process and allow it to independently react to the specific demands of the competitive disciplines. Autonomous driving and electric mobility are the automotive trends that are also BFFT’s key skills. As the main sponsor, the automotive engineering designer therefore decided to support the students in more ways than just financially. BFFT, with their expertise in autonomous driving, is also providing electrical and mechanical support. Among other things, the specialists are handling the installation of servo-motors for the steering and brakes. The workshops and support of the BFFT staff are also being made available to the up-and-coming Schanzer Racing engineers.

The week of 8/7/2017 – 8/13/2017 saw the event highlight of the year. The only race of the Driverless Division 2017 took place at the Hockenheimring race course in Baden-Württemberg. On Friday 8/11/2017, the BFFT Fan Truck also made its way towards Swabia in order to actively support the guys and gals. As well as the vehicle’s driving behavior, many other factors play a role in the overall ranking. For one, the students have to submit a business plan, for another, the design is judged by a jury and the vehicle concept therefore has to be properly explained. If not, they won’t be approved for the driving trials. The jury may have been a little harsh at the debut of the Driverless racing series. Just four vehicles out of 15 were allowed onto the track in the end. One of the teams that sadly didn’t make it was the Schanzer Racing Driverless Team. They are now working together with the engineers from BFFT to address these problems so that they and the vehicle can be 100% ready for the sponsor event. Some rule changes are scheduled for the coming year in the hope of getting more driverless vehicles onto the track. There will also be just one racing event next year. It’s going to be exciting!