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100 students behind advanced new racing car

DeV17, KTH race car with audience.
16 nations and more than 100 KTH students have jointly developed and built a new driverless racing car. Photo: Peter Ardell.
Published Jun 07, 2022

Since 2004, students at KTH have built no fewer than 15 racing cars. And now, number 16 is here. A brand new driverless vehicle, designed and built from scratch, with electrical and four-wheel drive and a self-supporting body. “The DeV17 is a car that ushers KTH Formula Student into a new era,” says Sara Kiprijanova, one of the 100 KTH students behind the new racing car.

potrait photo Sara Kiprijanova
Sara Kiprijanova is studying for a Master’s in Energy for Smart Cities (EIT InnoEnergy) at KTH. Photo: Peter Ardell.

Teamwork, sustainability and innovation – these are the three words that Sara Kiprijanova says distinguish the three-year DeV17 project. She is studying the Energy for Smart Cities (EIT InnoEnergy) Master’s programme at KTH, and says that the DeV17 is a test and development platform for current and future KTH students to take Formula Student racing cars into an electric and driverless future. 

“For the first time, KTH Formula Student has designed a self-supporting body to replace the frame construction of previous racing cars. This has enabled a lower centre of gravity, thus improving the car’s performance and road characteristics,” says Kiprijanova.

Better roadholding

The DeV17 has also been improved in terms of aerodynamics. This gives the car better roadholding through greater downforce, and also enables more efficient cooling of the parts of the driveline that need it. With four-wheel drive via hub motors rather than a standard electric motor and rear-wheel drive, roadholding has been improved during acceleration.

potrait photo Stelio Varrone
KTH student Stelio Varrone works on the DeV17’s support arm mounting in the lead-up to its premiere. Photo: Peter Ardell.

“And last but not least, we’re proud of the changes we have made to the self-driving system. It has undergone major improvements since KTH Formula Student previously competed in 2019. The driverless aspects can be divided into three parts: navigation, localisation and perception. Together – in the form of computer vision, profound learning and LIDAR data acquisition – the three parts can render the vehicle autonomous.

Only Swedish team

Speaking of competitions, the DeV17 will be taking part in a race this year. KTH Formula Student is the only Swedish team to qualify for the prestigious international design competition, Formula Student Germany, which will take place at the Hockenheim Ring on 15–21 August. 

DeV16, one of the older KTH race cars
This is the DeV16, the previous KTH Formula Student racing car. Photo: Peter Ardell.

“This competition is backed by major companies like Porsche, Audi and Tesla, and they’re also involved in judging the students’ entries. We’ll be competing against the best teams in the world, and we believe our unique design will put us among the very elite.”

No one is an expert at everything

So what have Sara Kiprijanova and the other KTH students learnt from being involved with KTH Formula Student? A lot.

“It’s impossible to put the experience you can get from being part of a Formula Student team into words. Working under pressure in a fast-moving environment can lead to mistakes, which in turn leads to uncertainty and a lack of motivation. We learn to be resilient, to take the initiative, to make sure we notice the mistakes we make and do better next time. We also learn the importance of teamwork, and the fact that teamwork is the only way to achieve success. No one can possibly be an expert at absolutely everything.” 

Peter Ardell

950 teams from 58 nations

  • EV11, one of the old KTH race cars
    The Ev11 racing car developed and built by KTH Formula Student in 2014 and 2015. Peter Ardell.
    The global Formula Student race series involves over 950 teams from 58 nations. Universities worldwide design, build and drive their own cars. Formula Student began in 1979 and includes various categories, including Electric Vehicle/EV and Driverless Vehicle/DV. The DeV17 can compete in both, thus the name DeV. 
  • The students compete in two types of events: static and dynamic. Static events are judged on engineering design, cost effectiveness and manufacturing aspects. Dynamic events are about the car’s performance on the track, so endurance, fuel economy, road characteristics and so on.
  • KTH Formula Student involves just over 100 students from a wide range of programmes at KTH. All students reading for a degree can take part whether they’re studying for two, three or five years, and at present around 10 programmes are represented. Altogether, 15 nations are represented in KTH Formula Student, alongside Sweden.
  • The KTH Formula Student website  has more details on the history of the university’s achievements in motor racing.

Figures for some of the KTH racing cars

Name Horsepower Acceleration Battery capacity, kWh Weight, kg
DeV17 150 0–100 km in 2.7 secs 6 210
DeV16 215 0–100 km in 3.5 secs 6.5 240
EV14 215 0–100 km in 3.1 secs 6.5 215
EV13 200 0–100 km in 4 secs 5.2 212
EV12 200 0–100 km in 4 secs 5.3 219
EV11 200 0–100 km in 4 secs 5.3 212
R10e 200 0–100 km in 4 secs 5.3 300
R9e 200 0–100 km in 4 secs 5.3 300
R8e 80 0–100 km in 4 secs 5.9 100
R7 80 0–100 km in 4 secs 5.9 110