Purdue University Motorsports will hold the evGrand Prix event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway May 14 and 15. There, high school and college divisions will duke it out in a competitive electric go-kart race.
Although not all of the races will feature a driver, some will let software take the wheel. Aside from manned races, the event will also host autonomous racing to see which engineering team can create the fastest and most effective driverless go-kart.
To get started, teams first obtain a go-kart kit from Top Kart USA, which includes the chassis and battery technology.
When it comes to powertrain, teams have a good amount of decisions on their hands regarding the battery system, motor, and controller. According to the event’s website, key questions include, “Will you choose brushed or brushless? Synchronous or asynchronous/induction? Will your batteries be lead-acid or lithium?”
Radar, lidar, [RTK] GPS, IMU, CV, and even more sensor options are all available for teams to play around with in their designs.
Computer hardware for the vehicle’s controls is handled by an ECU, like an Arduino. However, teams can decide the equipment that will run the autonomous software, although most go-karts relegate that to some form of Raspberry Pi.
Another hurdle to overcome is the go- kart’s software. Logic controls, reading/interpreting sensor input, and calculating the speed and steering commands are all up to the designers’ discretion. The event’s site does give away a few tips, “Consider open-source solutions like OpenCV and ArduPilot. In addition, you will likely have firmware to run on your embedded microcontroller acting as an ECU.”
Then, it’s off to the races. If it’s a team’s first go-around, they can ease into the autonomous competition by running a remote-controlled race.