ITK in Formula E.

Every second counts in development and racing.

For decades, motorsports and huge combustion engines were inseparable. More and more alternatives are emerging, however, and many auto racing series are rethinking their approaches. As we’ve seen in the automobile industry as a whole, new powertrain solutions such as electromobility are becoming increasingly important; and energy efficiency plays a major role. It no longer matters who is the fastest, but instead who can finish first while using as little energy as possible.

As a result, some race tracks are no longer overpowered by the deafening roar of motors and the smell of gasoline! In the Formula E racing series, electric race cars compete for victory. Still integral to the race is a lot of excitement, action, and cutting-edge technologies!

And ITK is there as well! As a long-term technology partner of Audi Sport, we have supported the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler team since 2016. In addition, ITK helps develop software for the race cars of Lucas di Grassi, Formula E champions of the 2016-2017 season and his teammate Daniel Abt. Our work encompasses powertrain control including the energy strategy, and a cockpit display that serves as a human-machine interface for visualizing energy values. This season, we are deeply involved in the simulation and evaluation of vehicle concepts. In the field of driving dynamics functions, ITK optimizes the power and torque controllers.

As part of our collaboration with Audi Sport, we handle the entire software-development cycle: from requirements analysis and development to verification and validation until the integration into the vehicle.

Driving smart software to victory.

The all-electric Formula E racing series allows automobile manufacturers to convincingly demonstrate that motorsports does not always involve noisy engines and the smell of gasoline. The software integrated into a race car plays a decisive role in determining which electric car wins Formula E. Teams are namely permitted to make only very minor modifications to the hardware of a homologated vehicle. Conversely, they enjoy a wide range of opportunities for optimizing the car’s software during the saison.
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High-precision simulations for a successful race

Formula E races take place in the metropolises of the world.  Since the series’ debut in 2014, new race tracks have been added every year for which the experience of recent years cannot be used. What are the particular challenges of unknown race tracks? Without real-life test drives of the vehicles, all of the event preparations have to take place virtually. In this case, the driving data requiring optimization must be converted to a precise simulation environment so that both the vehicle alignments and driver training can take place before the arrival at the race track. That way requirements can be put into practice within a short amount of time and without real empirical data of the race track while at the same time meeting the highest demands in terms of quality, plausibility, test coverage and documentation.

Energy Distribution Challenge

Energy efficiency is the future – and the key to success in the purely electric racing series Formula E!

In the Formula E, each driver has a set “energy budget” available. The trick is that the energy is always measured to low for the race distance that is to be driven. Only those who efficiently distribute the battery charge throughout the entire race can win. That sounds easy, but in a world where fractions of a second decide victory or defeat, it’s extremely difficult: What does around the clock-optimal energy distribution look like? Where to conserve without immediately being passed? How does the battery temperature behave during recuperation? To that every racetrack has its own characteristics and, in every race, something can change at any moment. Possible impending rain, safety car phases or a duel with rivals require permanent adaptation of the racing tactic.

Then there’s the human factor: The race car must be controllable so that it can exhaust its technical potential. For success, every factor must be accurate. This challenge is what drives us!

When every second counts

The difference between victory and defeat on the race track often comes down to just a few fractions of a second. In fact, time is a crucial factor, not just on the track but also in the technical development of the race cars themselves. The teams are faced with numerous opportunities to optimize their race cars as the season progresses, particularly in regard to software, but it is far from easy to find enough time to make those opportunities count.

In Formula E, the amount of time between races can often be just a weekend. Somehow the teams have to find time to assess and analyze the last race in this brief gap between the two events. To do that, they draw on a wealth of data including ideas from the drivers and team, observations about their competitors, and objective measurements. This data provides the basis for developing new functions, carrying out modular testing, and integrating the functions in the overall software package. Before the newly developed software can be handed over to the race team, the developers need to communicate, clarify and coordinate all the changes to the system’s behavior and the required parameterization. In many cases the software is put through its paces on the weekend of the race itself, so getting things right the first time is critical!

That’s where we come in.

Fast lap times and optimization of consumption are crucial in motorsports.

Join us to develop smart software and electronic components that put racers on the winner’s podium.

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