Expansion of the Formula SAE On-board Computer Control System

Photo of Ross Hogan, Justin Hrbacek, and Trey Vickery Students: Ross Hogan, Justin Hrbacek, and Trey Vickery

Sponsor: The University of Texas Society of Automotive Engineers

Date: Spring 2010

The launch control unit (LCU) must perform two tasks. First, the LCU must prevent the driver from launching the vehicle at high engine speeds by imposing a limit on engine RPM at the beginning of the launch. Second, the LCU must detect and minimize wheel slip by reducing engine torque when excessive wheel slip occurs. By performing these two actions the unit will reduce the amount of time wasted at the start of the race and in turn will allow the car to finish the course in less time. The design is constrained by the availability of sensors already installed on the car. Additionally, the design must meet all Formula SAE competition regulations.

The Formula SAE car has a need for an additional electronic module that incorporates launch control and allows future expansions such as traction control.

The launch controller was implemented on a National Instruments CompactRIO programmable automation controller. The unit receives input signals from Hall effect wheel speed sensors to measure wheel slip. In addition, the unit processes a signal containing the engine's RPM value and a signal from an on/off switch that allows the driver to enable or disable the launch controller. The unit's outputs limit engine torque by partially or completely disabling the ignition sequence. With this output capability, the launch controller can impose an RPM limit during the beginning of a launch and also reduce engine torque when instances of excessive wheel slip are detected.

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