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Formula E: Smart software helps Audi take runner-up honors

Bringing the benefits of smart software to e-racing, ITK Engineering yet again helped Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler develop a competitive car, the Audi e-tron FE05.

Audi driver Lucas di Grassi in the Audi e-tron FE05 Formula E racer at the 2019 New York E-Prix (photo: Audi Communications Motorsport / Michael Kunkel)

Alea iacta est. The Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler team clinched the runner-up spot in Formula E racing at the season finale in New York. Audi driver Lucas di Grassi finished the 2018/2019 season by taking third place in the drivers’ championship.

In this fifth season of the competition, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler’s drivers rose to the new challenges posed by unfamiliar circuits, unprecedented rules such as attack mode, and the Audi e-tron FE05, a second-generation racer with an active braking system and a more powerful battery. ITK Engineering was also back for this season, renewing its long-standing R&D partnership with Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler to co-develop the vehicles’ software and help boost the cars’ performance.

Calculated, flexible, self-sufficient – a winning energy strategy

The driver and onboard software have to mesh like well-oiled gears to make the most of the battery, maintain power output at the peak permitted level and cross the finish line first in every kind of weather, at extreme temperatures and on every circuit. The software’s innate intelligence is crucial to this symbiosis of man and machine. It has to be able to work flexibly and autonomously, particularly when its job is to distribute energy. These algorithms were developed to determine the best energy distribution before and during the race, taking into account calculable situations behind the wheel and on the track. The weather, safety car and full-course yellow phases, drivers jockeying for position – such factors are unpredictable, so the software has to respond independently during the race.

ITK Engineering provides support throughout the development cycle, optimizing vehicular software with virtualization tools and simulations to fast-track the process. Even the lack of real-world experience with untested new circuits does not deter the company from factoring the given conditions into the equation. The same goes for unforeseeable events such as rain in arid regions. Various constraints usually preclude directing testing on real vehicles, so ITK Engineering put its skills to work applying validation methods to HiL systems, component test benches and driving simulators. This year’s Formula E season attested to the alliance’s ability to hold up under even extreme conditions. With the benefit of ITK Engineering’s support, the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler team weathered hail in Paris and rain and flooding in Riyadh.

Sven Wergandt, Program Manager Motorsport at ITK Engineering, says, “In Formula E, we’re constantly working on new, innovative concepts to push back the limits of what’s possible. Every solution has to face up to direct competition with other approaches and prove its merits. This way, we are able to soon see if we’re turning our vision for smart systems into reality. We’re proud to be contributing to Formula E with values such as sustainability, efficiency and technological advances, as this means we’re also driving the development of electric cars for public roads. As we celebrate the successful 2019 Formula E season with the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler team today, we’re already looking forward to next season’s new challenges.”


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