National University of Science and Technology’s (NUST) Formula Electric Racing (FERN) team has made Pakistan proud on various international platforms. The main target competition for this year is Formula Student UK.
National University of Science and Technology’s (NUST) Formula Electric Racing (FERN) team has made Pakistan proud on various international platforms. The main target competition for this year is Formula Student UK. However, this time the team is not only participating in the electric vehicle (EV) category, it’s also included in the Driverless Vehicle category.
The team has been the first and only electric car representation from Pakistan in Formula Student competitions held in the USA, UK, and other countries to this day. Recently, the team finished on a podium position, again a first by any Formula Student team in Pakistan.
FERN resumed its on-ground operations after a two-year-long hiatus due to Covid-19. The last season was interrupted in the middle of the manufacturing phase, thus, once the team had complete access to its garage it started off the season with the completion of its third electric vehicle.
Manufacturing puts the design ideologies to the test and gives an even better understanding of the practicality of the designs. While thorough testing was being conducted on the third EV, the team simultaneously initiated the planning phase for the new season.
The team’s geographical location influences its decisions for the season and adds to the challenges compared to a team that is based in Europe or North America. However, these challenges did not hinder the team’s dedication and instead motivated its members to work harder. Targets for the season were set and the team from the senior management to the junior members had a clear direction to follow.
Upgrading the Car
On the EV side, FERN intended on upgrading its powertrain while also deploying an intricate in-house battery management system – a piece of critical circuitry within the battery pack that the team had worked on previously.
All of this seems easy on paper until one starts exploring things in depth. Apart from the huge financial burden, the upgrade meant procuring a new motor, motor controller, cells, and charger from different countries. The team, however, was fully aware of the challenges they were up against.
To deal with this, all departments strategically planned their approach narrowing it down to every possible inconvenience that would come their way. FERN strictly adhered to its timeline and also had contingency plans to support them in case things don’t go as planned.
Tackling Driverless Vehicle Challenges
Meanwhile, the Driverless Vehicle department is working on a concept that was new not only to them but also to this region of the world. Extensive research and self-driven individuals are required to tackle this massive undertaking.
The software stack of the autonomous system is divided into four modules namely Perception, Estimation, Planning & Controls.
Shipping the vehicle from Pakistan to the UK itself is a challenge. It put a huge dent in FERN’s finances so the team had no option but to ship it by sea by mid-May, 1.5 months before the competition, further reducing the time available to work on the vehicle. In just 8 months the electric vehicle was to be designed, manufactured, and tested.
As the shipment deadline approached the team started working till midnight right after their classes each day. The budget the team had allocated for shipment wasn’t enough. At the same time, there were some time-related concerns as it was taking longer than usual to ship things from Pakistan to the UK. That’s when Maersk came on board as the team’s end-to-end logistics partner, taking away all the shipment-related worries.
They were also supported by other sponsors such as Faizan Steel, Hashoo Group as an outreach partner, Hydrogen Vehicle Systems a start-up based in Scotland that designs hydrogen-electric vehicles, and Alpha College.
The team has now successfully shipped the vehicle and is prepping for the competition. This, what the team has achieved in 8 months, wasn’t possible without the relentless efforts of the team members, sponsors, the team’s alumni, and the institute – Pakistan Navy Engineering College – NUST.
This news was originally published by Pro Pakistani.