Spring 2018 Update
In order to charge the car more efficiently during the cross-country race, our team has begun designing and constructing a charging stand to hold the car's upper body. During rest stops, the upper body will be placed on the stand and rotated to provide more incident light on the solar cells, charging the batteries faster.
The steering wheel and column for Renatus have undergone multiple iterations since our last update. Members of our mechanical team have been prototyping possible shapes for the steering wheel based on the design of Celeritas' steering wheel. The steering column has undergone some redesigns, in order to better accommodate egress procedures. Our team considered the possibility of a pivoting steering column that could be pushed to the side in order to remove it from the egress path. The telescoping rod system we originally chose, where the steering wheel can be removed entirely by the driver so they can exit the car more easily, had to be reconsidered. Such a design would not have allowed wiring to go through the steering column, and our team has instead chosen a quick-release system to aid in egress.
Due to the width of our car and the height limit on our drivers, they will need to step on the upper body in order to enter or exit the cockpit. Since the solar cells are still fragile even after being encapsulated, we will need to either harden some of them further or remove them from the ingress/egress path entirely.
As of our last update, our electrical team has been able to encapsulate and tab almost all cells needed for the car. Once the last five cells have been completed, we will begin producing additional cells to serve as backups during the cross-country race, so they can be used to replace any that might get damaged.
The braking team has made significant progress in the design of both the normal and emergency brakes. The hydraulic brake line design has been finalized and almost all the rotors, calipers, and master cylinders have been identified for the normal system. In addition, designs for the emergency brake have been completed, with the calipers and handles for that system already found.
The design team has worked extensively on redesigning the suspension, while performing interim finite element analyses to ensure the changes benefit the system's integrity. The upright and A-arm have been redesigned and fine-tuned in order to bring the maximum possible stress on them below the strength limit of aluminum. By doing this, we can reduce the overall weight of the car and free up weight for other systems.
In order to protect the driver in the event of a crash, we've begun looking at different types of foam to supplement the crumple zones in our car. The energy calculations for crashes at varying speeds have been performed, and our team is currently in contact with General Plastics to acquire foam that meets our specifications.
Our programming team has made significant progress on the Raspberry Pis and driver interface. They have been able to program a interim touchscreen interface for the driver, which will allow them to view data over various parts of the car. Additionally, they've begun programming the AI for the car and creating a method to input testing data, in order to see how the car's programming would react to conditions we meet on the road.