AU­TONOMOUS-CARS RACE SE­RIES

Car (South Africa) - - TECH -

Imag­ine a fu­ture race se­ries where there are no driv­ers... Sounds far-fetched, right? Not to men­tion odd. Well, the rst race be­tween two au­tonomous ve­hi­cles took place ear­lier this year on a Buenos Aires street cir­cuit set up for the For­mula E championship that ran on the same day. The au­tonomous elec­tric race­cars, Devbots, were de­vel­oped by com­pany Rob­o­race to ul­ti­mately cre­ate a new au­tonomous-car se­ries. You might ar­gue that rac­ing is all about the driv­ers, but this se­ries gives soft­ware en­gi­neers the chance to pit their skills against each other on the track. It should speed up the ad­vance­ment of the tech­nol­ogy we need for au­tonomous pro­duc­tion ve­hi­cles and a race­track is a safe en­vi­ron­ment to learn. So, how did the race go? Un­for­tu­nately, one of the Devbots crashed. Rob­o­race says it isn’t con­cerned, though, as the test pro­vided valu­able in­for­ma­tion and no driv­ers were injured. De­vel­oped by Cas­trol and BP, the Nex­cel fuel cell prom­ises to change how our car engines in­ter­act with oil. In a dry-sump en­gine (mostly found in rac­ing or high-per­for­mance ve­hi­cles), the oil is stored in a sep­a­rate con­tainer and fed to the en­gine only as needed. This pre­vents cor­ner­ing forces mov­ing the oil away from the oil pump pick-up point that leads to oil star­va­tion in the en­gine (as would oc­cur in a wet sump).

Nex­cel has taken this idea fur­ther and made a self-con­tain­ing oil unit that holds not only the oil, but also the lter, a pump and con­trol unit. This oil cell can be paired with a wet-sump pro­duc­tion en­gine and re­moves the lu­bri­cant from the sump dur­ing start-up to ac­cel­er­ate the warm-up process, thereby re­duc­ing fric­tion, wear and emis­sions. When it is time for an oil change, all the liq­uid can be moved into the unit, where­after it’s re­placed by a new sealed unit con­tain­ing the new oil. This can be done in less than two min­utes with no spillage and al­lows the easy re­cy­cling of old oil. It sounds in­ter­est­ing, but we’re un­con­vinced the bene ts out­weigh the added com­plex­ity and cost.

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