Formula E Race Car
Rapid Ideation and Prototyping Led to New Design Innovation
Side Street Project
Community Out Reach
Formula E is a race series which challenges designer to use a sixteen-foot rubberband to power an RC car through three very distinct race courses. The race is used to bring community awareness and funding to local non-profits of the race teams choice. The Formula E race is set on the world stage with competition from all over the world including China, Japan, and other Asian Countries. The goal of Formula E is to explore a complex and highly function design problem and become and expert and to show this expertise by performing and winning the race. New innovations are a must to help you edge out the competition.
A big part of Formula E was to raise awareness and funding for non-profits and we chose Side Street Projects. Side Street Projects is an entirely mobile artist-run organization. Their mission is to give artists of all ages the ability and means to support their creative endeavors. Their programs connect professional artists directly to the community to facilitate creative problem solving within a contemporary art context. They also teach children design and fabrication skills through a mobile tool-based program “The Woodworking Bus.” We facilitate a rubberband power car building event during a community block party for troubled neighborhoods.
“Failing fast needs quick learning and a new plan of action!”
One major innovation we found through our rapid ideation was a concept called the “beer can” and what it did was move the spin force out and away from the center of the drive shaft. The thought was that by doing so we would gain my torque to the rubber band system. It did result in more torque and a “boost” when the rubberband returned to the neutral position. It would create a shape or volume the looked like a beer can when in this position. We scaled the “beer can” back tell we have a torque result the car could use. This gave our car an advantage in the hill climb and figure eight races.
Because of the resulting torque, we had discovered in our “beer can” concept our cars frame would not hold the torque of the rubber band on the drive system. We use lightweight RC helicopter blades as the structure to assist in the torque forces being put on the car. This frame provided us with great rigidity and power to ground transfer. It was the perfect platform to build on. Some small suspension part were added to the steering knuckles for tire contact during steering.
“Reaching out to help kids learn how to design and fabricate with Side Street Project”
Race day was a huge success and we held 1st, 2nd and 3rd place times in each of the races. The finals left us one-hundredth of a second behind the 1st place position in two races. The lost was rough but it was very close. I signed up to mentor the next years Formula E teams the following year to earn back my honor. One team decided to pick up where we left off with our design. I gave them advice of what I would do differently and told them I had been toying with a point of view camera and that I thought it might be something to help them drive and analysis their car’s performance. We also discussed all the pitfalls of the original design and the areas I wish we could have explored further. This advance and a talented new team lead them to the win the following year!
“I helped this new Formula E team find success by providing them a solid starting point with our previous design, extensive mentoring, and continued design direction. Their talented and hardworking team executed perfectly to secure them the win! Congratulations to Team Fastish on your win!”