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AR solves 'nerve-racking' production challenge for Formula Student team

Professional Engineering

Rocketmakers team with TBR and AR
Rocketmakers team with TBR and AR

Student engineers have claimed a world first in racing car production after using augmented reality (AR) to assist a “nerve-racking” process that is key to the vehicle’s integrity.

The University of Bath team are using a Rocketmakers AR tool as they build their entry for Formula Student 2019, the IMechE’s celebrated motorsports competition. This year’s event runs from 17-21 July at Silverstone, with students competing on aspects including car manufacturing cost and design, and performance such as acceleration and fuel efficiency in track events.

The university said it is the first time the tool has been used to build a car intended for competitive racing. The AR tool on Microsoft Hololens headsets is aiding construction of the car’s monocoque, guiding the application of carbon fibre laminates.

“The application process is conducted over an intense week-long period with students from Team Bath Racing working in shifts, applying each pre-cut carbon fibre laminate in the correct location,” a university announcement said.

“To ensure maximum strength and rigidity for the final product, the weave and direction of each laminate must vary according to a predetermined pattern.

“The Rocketmakers designed tool creates an augmented reality version of the car monocoque, with the correct shape, location, and orientation of each segment visible to the wearer during the application process.”

The tool is expected to improve users’ ‘work experience’ and accuracy. Robots typically apply carbon fibre laminates on production vehicles, but their application in small-scale production is physically and mentally demanding.

One misplaced segment can have “enormous negative consequences for the integrity of the final result,” the university said.

“After you’ve spent most of a year designing a car, the week-long process of carbon fibre layup is really nerve-racking,” said student and team business manager Jack Harris. “Carbon fibre layup is definitely one of those jobs that, despite the high-tech equipment we use for our design and testing, still relies mostly on hand-eye coordination. Having a tool to assist with the stressful, backbreaking process is really exciting.”

For more information on Formula Student, visit https://www.imeche.org/events/formula-student.


Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
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