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On the way to the top of the world in autonomous racing – A true success story

  • 3 min read

Already in January of this year, we shared our collaboration with Elefant Racing, a German Formula Student team that has launched their latest and highly disruptive innovation project – a fully autonomous race car – in 2020. 

We now asked Sebastian Sartor, the former COO and Co-Founder of the driverless project, for his teams’ experiences with the UNI-GR1 GNSS receiver and its role in the victory in the engineering design event at Formula Student East. These are his words. 

“Looking back, nobody ever dreamed that we would win the engineering design event at Formula student East as a first-year team and that the first Driverless event would become the 3rd most successful event in the club’s history. Although we always knew our strengths (very, very high domain expertise, creative approaches), we also had to deal with several challenges we didn´t foresee and that cost us valuable testing time.  

It was during those challenging testing times, at the latest, that we became aware of the immense value of the UNI-GR1 GNSS as it increased by far our testing efficiency. Originally, we aimed to use the GNSS primarily to receive the ground truth data of our track markings (cones). We could then benchmark our algorithm quality with the estimated cone position and track our development process. This worked out very well, but the much higher value was then generated by the stakeout function we discovered. For two racetracks the positions of the >80 cones are predefined. Initially, we rebuild those with ropes and measuring tapes which took ~4 hours (and three members). With the GNSS receiver, we decreased the needed time to 25min with only two team members. We went testing multiple times a week for multiple months. You can imagine how much time this saved us! 

By the way, all team members liked working with it as it was easy, fast, and highly reliable. In fact, we have screwed the GNSS on a tripod to automatically have an approximately straight orientation which gave us a faster calibration compared to the rod with the bubble levelling tool. 

In summary, I can highly recommend both the UNI-GR1 GNSS receiver and the marXact team. Thanks again for the great collaboration, and nice that you´ve been part of our success story. As the organization has an educational and research intention, the team currently works on the new car with lots of improvements which will be used for the competitions in summer 22. We´re looking forward to meeting marXact after the successful registration at TT Circuit in Assen in July. Thank you!” 

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