IIT Bombay racing team has created history by scoring an emotional win at the International Formula Student Competition. The Institute is beaming with pride as the electric car outshined on the global platform in conjunction with the industry giants such as NRB Bearings and Mahle. Let’s bask in the glory journey with Imran Afreed, Chief Marketing Officer, IIT Bombay Racing and Barath Krishna S, Project Manager, IIT Bombay Racing.
❖ Congratulations on winning International Formula Student Competition! Could you share the brief on the latest car, E-12, which is the 12th version of the car made in conjunction with industry giants such as NRB Bearings and Mahle that fetched you the award?
IITB Racing Team: Thank you! We have been making electric race cars since 2012, and this is our 12th vehicle; we started designing this in 2019, and due to pandemics, the process got delayed, and our vehicle will be all set to go on track by the end of September 2021.
E-12 can go from 0 - 100 km/hr in just 3.11 seconds and has a top speed up to 145 kmph. Our car has dual octagonal anti-roll bars, which gives a roll stiffness tunability range of +-10%, slip angle control torque vectoring, lightweight magnesium alloy rims, and busbar PCBs in the accumulator. We have achieved a 30% weight reduction in the brake assembly. It is our first car that will have a fully tested and validated aerodynamic package.
NRB Bearings and MAHLE have played a significant role in designing and manufacturing the vehicle by providing monitory and technical support even in difficult times. We are grateful to them for their continuous support.
❖ May we request you to highlight the unique features that helped IIT Bombay’s car outshine its competitors?
IITB Racing Team: The result attributes to the efforts of all the team members.
Due to the national pandemic, we participated in a virtual model. In a typical scenario, due to the extremely tight schedule that the team used to follow, we would have next to no time left to prepare for the static events of the competition. This season, we started our preparation well in advance and displayed a strong performance in the competition.
“Feedback from our alumni has been crucial in refining our submissions and presentations during the competition. We believe all these contributed to this result.”
❖ Building a formula student car is a tremendous achievement that requires a high level of efficiency. Requesting you to address a few of the challenges you faced while building this race-winning vehicle.
IITB Racing Team: Electric vehicles are still bleeding-edge technology; the automobile market in India has just started adopting it and building one in such a scenario is a challenging task. We can pull this off because of the knowledge; documentation passed on to us by our seniors and alumni accumulated over ten years.
In the last competition, our vehicle’s motors failed. Thus we took utmost care in designing and testing the powertrain of this car with new motors, and shifting from an outsourced battery management system (BMS) to an in-house BMS wasn’t an easy task. Ensuring reliability, the safety of the battery pack and driver was a challenge. Another major challenge was reducing EMI Noise from Motors and Motor controllers on our electronic systems, which caused significant delays in our timeline.
During the lockdown, as our Institute was closed and none of our team members could access the lab, we faced problems like rusting of metallic components, significant delays in manufacturing and testing. Our faculty advisor Prof. Amber Srivastava and many professors from IIT Bombay have guided us through these challenges.
❖ The IIT Bombay Racing team has been improving consistently over the years. The performance in competitions such as Formula Bharat is spectacular and ever improving. What keeps you motivated to keep progressing irrespective of failure or success?
IITB Racing Team: We believe competition is not just about winning or losing. It is also about the knowledge we get from the feedback from judges, interactions with other formula student teams etc. Knowledge gained through feedback and interactions has a significant impact on the team while designing our next vehicle.
It is easy to lose the path and get demotivated in a long-term project. Thus, we divide our timeline into phases and set targets ourselves. It not only keeps us motivated but also ensures everyone in the team is on the same page.
❖ The pandemic has brought in a massive shift in the perspective of various aspects of competitions. Could you please share your experience of the virtual event?
IITB Racing Team: Due to the severity of the pandemic in India, we could not attend the Formula Student UK 2021 live event held in the UK. It meant that we would participate in the concept class, presenting our project’s design, business plan, and cost report. Since the competition was going to be online and we did not have to test the vehicle on-ground, we were left with a lot of time to prepare for the competition. In a typical scenario, due to the extremely tight schedule that the team used to follow, we would have next to no time left to prepare for the static events of the competition. This season, we started our preparation well in advance and displayed a strong performance in the competition.
We were ready for the engineering design event with the presentations around a month before the deadline and carried out multiple mocks and reviews with our alumni. It ensured that we were well prepared to answer questions about any aspect of the car. We ended up securing first place in the event.
We formed a separate team for the business plan presentation event who worked on the business model presentation. Multiple rounds of reviews and refinements to the presentation were completed, achieving 10th place in the event.
The team managed to achieve the best result by any Indian team to date by securing the title of Overall Champions in the concept class. The competition was an excellent experience for us, with the group receiving a lot of fantastic feedback from the judges of the event.
❖ As a team head, how do you manage to keep the spirits high of every stakeholder constantly?
IITB Racing Team: While managing a team of more than 80 members from different backgrounds and domains, one of the most challenging tasks is to keep the team members and the stakeholders motivated and engaged in the team’s functioning. Keeping the team driven is essential for the team’s smooth operation and achieving the targets set at the beginning of the season. It was on the best teams in India, if not the best, puts a lot of pressure on us to perform well in the competitions we attend.
The team’s performance has been outstanding in recent times, excelling in every competition. We were crowned as the overall champions of FSUK 2021 and FSEV 2021 while defending the engineering design event winners title from FSUK 2020. Naturally, morale is running relatively high amongst the members of the team as well as the sponsors. The stakeholders play a vital role in the team’s performance in the competitions—the group.
During off-seasons or when the team’s performance is not up to the mark, keeping it is essential to keep the stakeholders updated on the team’s activities is necessary. Giving them regular updates and reviewing helps the team improve and overcome the inevitable hurdles in this challenging yet fulfilling journey.
❖ What is the way forward for this project?
IITB Racing Team: We have planned some significant changes for our next car (E-13). To begin with, we are shifting from a steel space frame to a monocoque chassis for good strength to weight ratio, high torsional stiffness & lower weight. We are also introducing an in-house developed fault detection system that monitors all the critical signals in the car and gives insights during testing. Since driverless is the next big revolution in the automobile industry, we also have in-house started working in this domain. We have a team of 12 design engineers working on various driverless technologies to make our car driverless by 2024.