IIT Bombay has been the pinnacle of technical education in India for ages now. But, the students at IIT Bombay have the passion to go further and have also made their mark in the Indian Motorsport scenario as the best electric Formula Student team. The team was founded in 2007 and took part in its first race in 2008 at Formula Student Michigan. The crew raced with IC engines for a short while and shifted to electric motors in 2012 and also were the first college racing team in India to do so. IIT-B has also been taking part in the Formula Student UK, but for the first time, the competition was held virtually and the team still bulldozed their way through the competition.
The IIT-B team and NRB bearings have been in a partnership for the past 7 years, with the company being the title sponsors for IIT Bombay and also has been their longest-standing supporter. NRB Bearings in cooperation with IIT Bombay had launched the EVo2 (Electric Vehicle 02) in 2013 and hosted the test run on the IIT Bombay campus in Powai. Apart from sponsoring the team, NRB Bearings has also provided access to its design centre and facilities to these students. The IIT-B team is now also being sponsored by a German automotive parts manufacturer called Mahle which is based out of Stuttgart. This company was founded on the 1st of December in 1920 by Hermann Mahle and since then has risen to be one of the largest automotive suppliers worldwide. Mahle is known to support several student teams over the globe and now is supporting the IIT-B team as their Platinum sponsor.
Coming back to the Formula Student UK, there are two events - Static and Dynamic events. Basically, static events require the participating teams to present the design of their respective race cars, finances and marketing strategies. The engineering department demonstrates and presents the functionality of each and every part within the car. Then the details of actualising the designs are presented along with the most cost-effective way to do it. Once the gritty bits are presented, the teams move on to showcase their business plan and how they intend to strategically market their product to achieve a successful run in sales. The dynamic events test the robustness of the car and its capability to function as a racecar. The cars from the respective teams are subjected to an endurance run where the cars have to run for 22 km to present their efficiency and capability. Apart from the endurance run, the cars are tested across three tracks - Autocross tests the handling, Acceleration Track tests the top speed of the car in a straight line and the Skidpad is essentially a racetrack but as a figure of eight.
But this year as we mentioned earlier, the Formula Student UK was held virtually and hence only the static events took place and the teams were ranked accordingly. The competing teams submitted their static event presentations for evaluation to the competition and it was then followed by a live Q&A session with the judges. The IIT Bombay team secured a remarkable 21st position out of the 72 participating international teams and also won the engineering design presentation.
The year 2020 has seen a lot of mishaps and the COVID-19 pandemic has been the biggest setback for all. From businesses to taxis, everyone has borne the consequences of the virus and the IIT-B team was no exception to this virus. The students at IIT-B have set their sights for 2021 and will come up with a refreshed and reworked racecar. Building a racecar consists of several complicated steps, including ideation, design, development, and testing which require a tremendous amount of collaborative efforts. But, in the initial stages of the lockdown all this was hampered and most of all the process of ideation and design received a major setback. Pre-pandemic the team’s ritual was to huddle up every day from 9 pm to 12 am and brainstorm new ideas and modifications for the car, but this seemed like a task for the students over a virtual platform.
Eventually, the team figured out a way to get back to their excellent selves and now holds regular virtual conferences that are aligned to their working hours to pre-pandemic ones. This work-from-home environment has given them an opportunity to rethink the design through a research lens. The team has invested a great deal of time to research and identify solutions that help virtually test and prototype various parts of the car. In the off chance that a part does not lend itself to virtual design and tests, the team resorts to over-designing that allows for more flexibility in the car's final phases. While the Coronavirus pandemic has had a debilitating effect on every aspect of our lives, the IIT Bombay Racing team has found innovative ways to continue its mission to build the world’s fastest electric race car.