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Presenting Orion - Ch. 3 Autonomous

After 3 years of running parallel to the mechanical and electrical team, this year marked the introduction of our autonomous software in our racing car, Orion. A tremendous innovation, however not without any challenges. Therefore, the primary goal for this inaugural integration year was to achieve robustness in both software and system integration, aiming to pass scrutineering and become the first Belgian team to drive autonomously on a Formula Student competition.

To realise this, intense collaboration with the mechanical and electrical team were needed. Together with the mechanical team, we introduced significant changes in our steering system. A driverless steering servo was added, which is coupled to a gearbox using an electromagnetic clutch. This system allows the servo motor to be decoupled when not in use, preventing potential damage and useful to reduce the physical load during manual driving.

Furthermore, the team improved the electrical integration by using an industrial computer (iPC) to replace the vehicle's ECU. This switch was motivated by the need for reliability and comprehensive data capture. The iPC handles calculations for the driverless events, monitors the car, and controls torque to the motors during manual events. This setup allows for remote monitoring and control of the vehicle, enhancing diagnostic capabilities and parameter adjustments during testing. The iPC's integration enables capturing all vehicle data, providing valuable insights for optimizing both autonomous and manual driving aspects of the car.

As from now, all integrations are finished. The birth of Orion also marks the retirement of our testing platform Pegasus. Pegasus allowed us to test all our algorithms regarding perception, SLAM and control. This allowed us to make our software more robust and minimise the chances of any software failure during driving. With the summer coming closer, we are looking forward to start testing our software in Orion and participate in our first driverless competitions in Czech and Germany.


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