Formula-e is an ArtCenter competition where teams of 3-4 design, develop and construct functioning RC rubber band race cars. Students gain experience in strategy, product development, physics, engineering, design fabrication, branding, teamwork, goal setting etc. The vehicles are created with the latest computer design and rapid prototyping tools allowing for significant optimization in each part. These improvements help cars rapidly accelerate to speeds over 25mph. In addition to the design and fabrication of the vehicle, student teams will develop their team brand and design graphic collateral to promote their teams. Teams will also develop collaborative partnerships with local non-profit organizations.
This project was completed in August of 2017 as part of studio curriculum at ArtCenter College of Design. I participated in a team of 4 where my main roles were vehicle design, fabrication, and community relations.
Awards won: Best in Show, Best Design, Gensler Innovation
Learning new concepts quickly
Initially, students know little about what it takes to build a winning car, therefore it is imperative that students quickly familiarize themselves with extensive racing know-how. Various prototypes allowed our team to better understand what worked well and what didn't. Once we understood what needed to change, it was back to the workshop!
Innovation with cutting
edge tools and technology
Since its conception in 2006, formula-e has seen many different types of cars attempt to break the previous year's record. Over 12 years, one could imagine that innovation begins to plateau and that there's little room for improvement. Our team considered previous design concepts and dug deep into the details of the car in order to push the boundaries even further and break record times.
Team FASTish was the first student team to use a first person view (FPV) camera mounted to the car. This innovation ultimately led to us winning the Gensler Innovation Award.
First Person View footage allowed for review and discussion at a later time as well vision for the driver in what were previously blind spots.
The FPV camera allowed us to review our race line and discuss as a team after a practice lap. It also gave us vision behind trees where other teams could not see. Last but not least, it allowed us to take every turn as close as possible, shaving off precious milliseconds.
All parts were optimized using 3d printing to be lighter and stronger.
Dual elastic energy storage. Effectively acting as a booster system. Concept ultimately was shelved.
To go above and beyond what any team had previously done, our group carried out several types of tests. The first round of tests were carried out using a dynomometer (left) to measure which gear ratio and length of rubber band gave us optimal torque and speed for the course. Second, we conducted FEA (below) analyses on the chassis of car to understand where parts were experiencing high stress under the forces of the rubber band. This allowed us to ultimately make our parts lighter and stronger.
Red indicates high stress while blue indicates low, thus implying that it is safe to remove material and excess weight from the blue areas.
Our team partnered with Side Street Projects of Pasadena in an effort to teach, inspire and raise awareness in youth about design. Kids from 5-12 years old spent an afternoon with us building and learning about rubber band cars and exciting new tech.
a global scale
In March of 2018, team FASTish traveld to China as a reward for winning Best in Show. There, we traveled to 7 different universities and met with students who were participating in the same competition. At each location, we lectured on how our team designed, tested, and proved a winning rubber band race car.