There were loud cheers and hearty applause when DTU Roadrunners’ latest version of its eco-car ‘DTU Dynamo’ had its camera modified after a couple of trials before passing the ‘stop test’ with flying colours. This was a test which clearly showed that the car can drive—and stop—autonomously, without driver intervention. However, it was not Prince Joachim’s feet which were at stake, but five brave students, who confidently refused to budge from the spot when the eco-car parked itself ‘hands-free’ only 10 cm in front of them.
This year, DTU Roadrunners is entering two categories for the first time: ‘Furthest on a litre of fuel’, in which the team has previously set a world record, and ‘Autonomous systems’, where the car drives itself.
True to tradition, DTU Dynamo 14.0, with its classic red and black colours, was shown off to Prince Joachim. Following a number of presentations from the students, the prince then spent some time talking to them and taking a closer look at the technical details. And when the car had passed the ‘stop test’ and completed a circuit of the Produktionstorvet square and this year’s group photo was in the bag, they also received a pep talk from the royal car enthusiast.
Lidar and camera for the driverless car
In addition to fine-tuning the car and putting it on a diet to shed excess kilos, the main focus this year has been preparing it for being one of the first entrants in the new category: Autonomous (UrbanConcept).
One of the biggest challenges for an autonomous car is knowing where it is and how to react to obstacles it encounters. To address this challenge, the car is equipped with Lidar (light imaging,detection, and ranging) and a camera. Lidar ensures that the vehicle can ‘see’ the road and any obstacles it meets while driving around the track. Moreover, the car’s steering and brakes have been automated.
It was a big day for the 35 students on the DTU Roadrunners team when, back in May, the eco-car, as the first ever, completed the qualifying lap in Paris for the Shell Eco-marathon. Its best time was 1 minute and 20 seconds on a 180 m track with bends.
New sister project with electric racing car
Prince Joachim also met students from Vermillion Racing, an interdisciplinary team of almost 50 DTU students with a passion for cars, who in 2017 set themselves the goal of building an electric racing car from scratch. This year, they are entering Formula Student (FS), the world’s largest student engineering design competition, which is being held at Silverstone race track, about 100 km north of London, and they are currently working flat out getting the car ready for the prestigious race. Prince Joachim could not resist the opportunity to get behind the wheel. However, there was barely room for him, as it’s not designed for long legs.