In the Formula Student Germany (FSG) competition, Bosch is helping more than 30 teams develop and design their formula race cars and to put them into operation. On July 8, the company invited some 300 students from four countries to its Boxberg proving ground to prepare their vehicles for the competition on the Hockenheimring circuit.
The support provided by Bosch mainly takes the form of hardware components, software and expertise. The students benefit from the specialist know-how of the engineers they can turn to for advice.
“In the Formula Student competition, students can gather valuable experience in project management, engineering and software,” said Bernhard Bihr, president of Bosch Engineering, a Bosch Group subsidiary that specializes in engineering services.
Bosch has been involved in this race series for 10 years now. In FSG, students build their own race cars and compete against each other in the “combustion,” “electric” and “driverless” classes. Apart from driving tasks, the teams have to present a business plan and a marketing concept to a panel of judges.
New competition class: Formula Student Driverless
In the new Formula Student Driverless competition class, 15 teams will this year be competing against each other in their automated race cars.
“In Formula Student Driverless, it’s not enough to redesign the vehicle’s cable harness and install additional technology. Above all, we have to program the algorithms that will allow the race car to navigate the course completely on its own,” said Roman Dörflinger, who is in charge of organization at KA RaceIng e.V., a race team from Karlsruhe, Germany. The students have to understand the principles on which a self-driving car is based. “One challenge for us was to help the vehicle get its bearings on the race track. Following several tests with radar, laser, cameras and ultrasound, we opted for a combination of video image recognition and laser scanner. The Bosch experts and their experience were a great help for us in this respect.”
From race track to regular job
In self-driving race cars, software plays the same key role as in modern driver assistance systems. “In the area of connected mobility, software expertise is becoming especially important. Formula Student participants are thus ideally qualified for a successful career start. This is another reason we have been supporting Formula Student for 10 years now,” said Bihr. Even now, one in three Bosch engineers is concerned with software.
Helena Ortwein, a technical project coordinator in ESP calibration at Bosch Engineering, organizes the Formula Student event in Boxberg. Before joining Bosch, she was part of the University of Stuttgart’s race team for two years.
“Formula Student participants are characterized by passion, staying power and technical expertise,” said Ortwein. “For those taking part, it’s an ideal platform for getting into contact with potential employers.”
Bosch Engineering alone now employs some 90 former FSG participants.
Quality checks with Bosch engineers
At the driving event in Boxberg, teams can test their vehicles under racing conditions, carry out safety checks and fine-tune their race cars together with Bosch experts. From technical homologation to acceleration and endurance tests, the race cars will go through all the testing stages they have to pass at the competition itself in Hockenheim.
As many as 115 teams will take part in the season’s opening contest in Hockenheim going from Aug. 8-13. Apart from the race series in Germany, other Formula Student competitions will take place around the world.