Investigator Mk III

FAST’s vision for Investigator Mk. III is to design a road registered car that would appeal to a general motorist market. We are also aiming to produce a vehicle that is able to demonstrate the automotive technologies that have been developed at Flinders University. I.e. a telemetry system, regenerative suspension, new solar cell technology, autonomous systems, etc. We are hoping that the technology that is demonstrated in our car will be taken up by the automotive industry to improve the efficiency of electric and autonomous vehicles in the future.

Here are some the key features of the Investigator Mk. III:

Body and Aerodynamics

The initial aesthetics of the Investigator Mk. III was produced in collaboration with an industrial designer. This design was then optimised for aerodynamic performance using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation software. The shell of our car is made out of fibre glass.

 

Chassis and Suspension

The chassis of the Investigator Mk. III has a steel space frame design. Though this design is heavier than a carbon-fibre monocoque, the steel space frame design is easily modifiable and safer during impact. The suspension system consists of a double wishbone design for both the front and rear wheels in order to give our car good handling and performance. We are planning to integrate regenerative shock absorbers, which are currently under development at Flinders University, so that our car can recover the energy loss due to the compression and extension of the suspension system.

 

Drive System

Two ultra-efficient, axial flux, brushless, permanent magnet, hub motors from Marand are used to drive the rear wheels of our vehicle. The motors provide our vehicle with a top cruising speed of 100km/h. The hub motor design reduces the complexity of the drive train and thus reduces sources of aerodynamic and mechanical energy loss.

Battery Pack

Our battery pack consists of 2,448 Panasonic NCR18650BF batteries.  We connect 36 of these batteries in parallel to form one cell and we connect 34 of these cells in series to make one of our battery packs. In our solar car we have two of these battery packs, which weigh in at a total of 120kg.

Solar Array

The maximum allowable solar array size of 5m2 (defined by the requirements of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge) is used on the vehicle in conjunction with maximum power point trackers to maximize the efficiency of the solar cells. The solar array is estimated to produce upwards of 1000W.

Telemetry

Our solar car will have a state-of-the-art telemetry system that will utilise a serval communication protocol, which will allow us to transmit and communicate data cheaply and reliably. This telemetry system will not only allow our solar car to communicate to the rear support vehicle, but also allow communications between all our support vehicles over huge distances.

Autonomous Systems

An autonomous lane keeping system is to be integrated into the vehicle. This system is comprised of a stereo camera and image processing to maintain vehicular position within the lane along with a lane departure warning. In addition, we are incorporating an adaptive cruise control system that is able to detect the speed of the vehicle in front and allow our solar car to match the speed of that vehicle.