Formula Student (FS), a unique engineering education competition, is a hotbed of high-performance electric vehicle (EV) design across Europe. The goal of the competition is to encourage young people to take up a career in engineering. It is designed to test students’ abilities and demonstrate their capabilities to deliver a complex and integrated product in the motorsport environment. Entry into the competition forms part of a degree-level project and is viewed by the motorsport industry as the standard for engineering graduates, transitioning them from university to workplace.
The team from Instituto Superior Técnico is Portugal’s most successful FS teams, with seven prototypes from past events. The team’s fourth car was the first high-performance electric car developed in Portugal, while its 2017 design was the first four-wheel drive electric prototype.
This year the team is composed of students from several engineering disciplines: mechanical, naval, electrical, aerospace, informatics and industrial management. Henrique Motta, an industrial engineering and management student and Sponsor Manager for FST Lisboa, says this year’s entry is based on the team’s previous electric car which was the first to have all-wheel drive transmission. Therefore, much of the focus is now on developing, testing, and refining the electric motor.
The Portugal team may have a secret weapon in the form of a test bench based upon a wireless torque sensor. Sensor Technology Ltd. has supplied a TorqSense system to the team to help them develop a high-performance electric motor. The TorqSense sensor will allow the team to measure the motors’ torque to predict its behavior once installed in the car. They will be testing motors to their limits on the test bench and will eventually be able to predict how it will perform in all circumstances.
The testing regime is such that the TorqSense can be used in all bench tests to model all performance characteristics of the prototype motor. Tests will be performed up to a maximum speed of 20,000 rpm and a maximum torque of 30 Nm.