During our trip through the Australian outback, we don't want to leave anything to chance. For that reason, our solar car is equipped with a large number of sensors. We do not only measure things like the vehicle's velocity or the battery voltage, but also less obvious values such as the temperature of our solar cells.
All measurement values are wirelessly sent to one of our escort vehicles using a self-designed telemetry system. The transmitted sensor values are automatically preprocessed and afterwards monitored by team members of different departments to search for possible defects. Furthermore, the received data is used to improve mathematical models of the solar car to help us determine a so called driving strategy.
Choosing a driving strategy
The driving strategy decides how fast we should go on every part of the race track to reach the finish line in the shortest time possible. Since all the energy we use is provided by the sun, we try to minimise the time spent in cloudy areas. On the other hand, we try to keep the velocity constant to reduce the drag forces on the car. Additionally, there are many more objectives to consider, such as headwind, slope and speed limits.
It is obviously not an easy task to find a velocity profile that optimises the race time considering all these target functions. Thus, we use an optimising algorithm to help us find a satisfying solution. This calculation will be made several times during the race, especially every time we receive the latest weather forecasts. All results are wirelessly sent back to the solar car to be retraced automatically.