Students of the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) on Monday launched the first electric formula racing car from the institute. Built completely by students of Team Raftar, the formula car ‘RF23’ is the result of a year-long process during which the team undertook the design, manufacturing and testing.
The next step is to work on autonomous (driverless) cars. Work on this project will start next year, IIT Madras Director V Kamakoti said. Like RF23, technologies in the autonomous race car will be put to various stress tests, he said .
Team Raftar comprises 45 students from ten departments involving various disciplines and is one of the competition teams of Centre For Innovation (CFI) at IIT Madras. The team looks forward to representing India at International level, fostering industry-standard engineering practices and nurturing real-world technical expertise among engineering students.
For many years, the institute has been working on combustion engines. However, there has been a rapid change towards electric cars from combustion, and RF23 is one such initiative in the change. “We are hopeful that the car will be number one in various competitions,” Kamakoti told newspersons after unveiling the car on Monday.
The experimental car will provide an opportunity to fully test the stress of the automobile technology for better results. For instance, the aim is to achieve 100 kmph speed in 4 seconds and expose the battery technology to harsh driving conditions. Similarly, the project will get insights on the battery technology that will be required for passenger cars. This project will be useful to develop the next level of electric vehicle technology, he told newspersons.
“This car is a platform to develop passenger electric vehicles,” said Professor Satyanarayanan Seshadri of Applied Mechanics department, IIT-Madras and Faculty Advisor to the RF23 project.
On RF23, the team expects to see improvements in speed and lap times compared to the earlier Internal Combustion Engine model due to the higher power delivered by an electric drive.
Team Raftar: The formula car ‘RF23’
The team will participate in the Formula Bharat event to be held in January 2023 at the Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore. It also aims to take this car to the world’s most prestigious Formula Student event, Formula Student Germany in the August of 2023 to pit itself against the best teams from around the world, vying for a place on the podium.
Karthik Karumanchi, Student Team Captain, Team Raftar-IIT Madras, said, the team’s focus was to build a safe, sustainable and reliable electric vehicle by looking at issues faced in the industry and devising solutions. There was a need for proper thermal management of the battery; a robust data logging and visualisation interface, and a highly accurate estimator for the battery pack. The project was based on finding solutions to these problems and incorporating them into ‘RFR 23’.
The students are in the process of incorporating India’s first indigenously made processor SHAKTI to achieve complete customisability with no external dependency. It is on its way towards developing its first driverless race car by 2025 and participating in the ‘driverless category’ of Formula Student events, says a press release.
The journey of Team Raftar:
2012 - First car rolls out
2017- First Indian team to win an international dynamic event
2020 - Formula Bharat champions
2022 - Winners of Pi-EV electric challenge
2024 - Going driverless and beyond