Last Wednesday night, the UQ Racing team held our 2nd large-scale event of the year, our 2021 Car Launch. We were once again fortunate enough to be invited by the University of Queensland to showcase our hard work as a part of the annual Bloom Festival. We warmly welcomed our special guests to a lovely spot we had secured on the Forgan Smith lawns, amongst the lights and jacarandas.
The night got underway with our incredible MC, Caleb Aitken, making a comeback after his debut at our last launch. After greeting everyone in attendance and running through some important housekeeping matters, we received a presentation from our Board of Directors, who spoke with great enthusiasm about our many accomplishments for the year.
First up, our Team Principal, Kyra Stephens reflected on a year that has primarily focused on change, development and innovation. With the formalisation of management procedures, focus on knowledge transfer, the drive of a strong leadership team and the desire to work towards new habits and traditions, the team has, in turn, been set up for success for many years to come. Despite the continuous challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, the team has continued to grow to around 60 members strong, 50% of which are new this year! Kyra also took the time to thank our sponsors and supporters and also express our gratitude towards a very generous donation made by Trevor and Judith St Baker of the St Baker Family Foundation. With their support, we will be able to put the plans for our 2022 Electric Vehicle into action.
Next, our Electric Vehicle (EV) Technical Director, Riley Ireland stepped up to the podium to present the progress we have made on our EV this year. Our main focus was to improve and upgrade our 2020 EV, Barnacle, while additionally setting out to achieve last year’s 500km testing and validation goal. We were, fortunately, able to take the car to Lakeside Park on several occasions over the year, allowing us to validate our points lapsim, software, our INS unit for state estimation and our strain gauge sensors on the shock absorbers and steering column. We have further been able to get three new drivers behind the wheel and are close to achieving all of our driver training targets in autocross, skidpad and acceleration. In addition to our testing achievements, Riley spoke about the improvements and upgrades to our vehicle. We have new revisions of our Cell Management Unit (CMU) boards and High Voltage Junction (HVJ) board and have investigated new manufacturing methods for our aerodynamics package. This year, we have also obtained a MoTeC M150 ECU from our wonderful sponsor, Franna Cranes to run more advanced control systems and Cane Creek DB Coils to replace our current shock absorbers and allow 4-way tunability of the vehicle’s damping. Finally, Riley revealed our plans for our 2022 EV and the progress of our design phase which we began in the middle of this year. Our main goal is to develop an AWD hub motor vehicle that involves a complete redesign of the powertrain. This will hopefully give us more traction and allow for individual control over the torque at each wheel. Thanks to the hard work of our current team, we are well on track to develop a competition-worthy car next year.
Lastly, we heard from our Autonomous Vehicle (AV) Technical Director, Cristina Rennie who spoke about the development of our first autonomous vehicle. Our aim this year was to retrofit our previous EV, Chicken with the systems and sensors required for autonomous driving. Several of our systems already have basic functionality such as fully isolated perception pipelines for our LiDAR, SLAM implementation and a path planning algorithm. We have also implemented several of our autonomous sensors and have a solution for our steering and braking actuation with our 24V LV battery system. Cristina also took the time to thank the five new sponsors actively supporting the development of the driverless vehicle and express how lucky we are to have been involved in the iMOVE program to assist with our Remote Emergency System, Vehicle Actuation and Ruggedised Computer Integration projects. We hope that the autonomous vehicle will continue to develop and will further be able to be demonstrated at a competition in the future.
As always at our Car Launch, we were also able to present some illustrious awards to acknowledge the commitment and efforts of some of our most dedicated team members. This year, our Mechanical Director, Sam Munro proudly presented prizes to James Larking for ‘Best Towing Vehicle’, Brayden Klimmer for ‘Highest Driver Training Attendance’, Sophia Garin for ‘UQ Innovate Master’, Ed Hassall for ‘Most Active Member’ and Lucas Bree for ‘Highest Composites Attendance’.
The evening also provided the perfect opportunity to officially announce and congratulate our 2022 Leadership Team. We are fortunate enough to be led into the new year by the following hardworking team members:
- Team Principal: Brayden Klimmer
- EV Technical Director: Michael Jones
- AV Technical Director: James Talkington
- Structures Lead: James Larking
- Dynamics Lead: Edward Hassall
- Business Lead: Sophia Garin
- Software Lead: Matthew Young
- Treasurer: Jordy Davies
- OHS & Workshop Lead: Victor Churilov
After our presentation, we saw a special video made by our team member, Mitch Anderson, showing off our cars in action and providing some highlights of our activities during the year including simulations, design work and manufacturing. This led up to the official unveiling of our 2021 EV, Mussel and our 2021 AV, Rooster, both wrapped in brand new livery, decked out in jacaranda flowers. This led into the main portion of the evening where team members were able to chat to sponsors, academic advisors, alumni, parents and friends and show off their hard work on the cars firsthand. Our current Business Director, Victoria Smith and 2022 Team Principal, Brayden Klimmer kept everyone happy with food and drinks all night long and before we knew it, our launch had come to an end.
Of course, an event as significant as this would certainly not be possible without the assistance of many individuals working behind the scenes. Firstly, a huge thank you must go to the faculty at the University of Queensland for providing us with such a beautiful venue to hold our launch and for allowing us to once again be a part of their Bloom Festival. We would also like to express our gratitude to the Indooroopilly Hotel for catering all the delicious food served on the night and to TGG for assisting us to set up and run our live stream for those unable to make it to the venue. Finally, we would like to thank our wonderful sponsors who make it possible for us to design, manufacture and test our vehicles every year, our academic advisors for providing us with the opportunity to take our practical learning past our coursework, alumni who always go above and beyond to provide us with insightful feedback on our work and push us to produce the highest quality of deliverables and lastly, our supporters with their unyielding encouragement. We are immensely excited to continue working hard for the rest of this year and are looking forward to sharing our progress in the lead-up to our upcoming competitions!