EPFL Racing Team bets on Artemis to bring home the wins

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Two members of the EPFL Racing Team unveil their latest speedster. ©Alain Herzog
Two members of the EPFL Racing Team unveil their latest speedster. ©Alain Herzog/EPFL

The team unveiled its latest car yesterday evening at EPFL’s new makerspace. Their speedster will compete in four Formula Student Electric races throughout Europe this summer.

The workbenches, stools and movable screens have been cleared out of the 400m² open space. Taking their place are rows of chairs arranged in a U shape for the 250 guests attending the launch event. A red carpet lines the main entrance, with both Orion and Mercury on display, and spotlights cast a red glow on the building’s structure. Everything is decked out in red and white - the team’s colors. The new speedster sits encircled by the rows of chairs, covered with a black sheet. Tension and anticipation fill the air: it’s taken the 80-member team ten months of hard work to reach this point.

The student association unveiled its latest Formula Student racer on Wednesday evening at the SPOT, EPFL’s brand-new modular makerspace. After competing in Orion and Mercury, EPFL Racing Team (EPFLRT) will take to the European tracks this summer in a new car dubbed Artemis. The electric single-seater - manufactured and assembled entirely at EPFL - is as light as a motorcycle but as powerful as a VW Golf, giving it a power-to-weight ratio on par with a Ferrari Enzo.

Two weeks ago, Artemis was little more than a collection of parts - around 7,000 in all - still waiting to be assembled. Chiara, a member of the EPFLRT chassis team, was putting the finishing touches to the chassis inserts in the mechanical prototyping workshop adjoining the main space at the SPOT. And one week ago, the entire Racing Team worked from early morning to late at night to assemble the full racecar. Beyond the engineering challenge, Artémis required finely tuned coordination and close cooperation among the skilled individuals who unveiled their speedster the 25th of May.

"Lighter, more rigid, and safer"

Although the highly impressive Artemis will undoubtedly be outdone by future racers, it’s a step up on its predecessors - a handsome, bright speedster emblazoned with the logos of the team’s sponsors. The hybrid, one-seat design - part carbon fiber, part tubular frame - "is the biggest improvement in this model," says Gauthier Vuitton, EPFLRT’s chief technical officer. "It makes it lighter and more rigid, and therefore safer." The team members have adjusted, improved and fine-tuned everything they could. The battery is a touch lighter, the cooling system is more efficient and a regenerative braking system has been added, while the two rear-mounted engines - one for each wheel - make this a powerful, lightweight racer. In fact, Saturne weighs in at a little over 200kg, with the battery accounting for a quarter of this weight, and can go from 0 to 100km/h in around 3 seconds.

As the rapturous applause fades, the team is ready to embark on the next stage of the challenge: putting Artemis through its paces on the track. "We’re halfway there," says Vuitton. "The tests will show us what we need to tweak further - configuring the shock absorbers, adjusting the tire pressure and battery management settings, and making other changes until everything is just right." June promises to be a busy month for the team, whose members - from different EPFL schools - also have exams to contend with. Later this summer, EPFLRT will pit Saturne against the competition in four races. The first event will be held in Zurich in July, followed by three races at Formula one circuits in August: the Hungaroring (Hungary), Hockenheim and Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya (Spain).