Newsletter 8: Creating a brain for the car

26 - 06 - 2015

Solar Team Eindhoven Newsletter #8






Attending and creating events is one of my tasks as organization member of Solar Team Eindhoven. We consult which one of us will go to the events we receive an invitation for. Besides visiting events, we also create them our self, which is not always easy.

The next major event we all have been waiting for is banging on the door: the car presentation on the 2nd of July. While we are all working extremely hard to finish the production of the car on time, the organization have to make sure that this car is presented with style. Things like overall theme, groundmap, beverages, lighting, music and security are just some parts which have to be taken into account. We as organization have to keep each other up-to-date in order to have the overall overview of our event at all times. This requires concentration and good communication between each organization member, event partner and the rest of the team.

We have complete confidence that our car of the future gets the show she deserves. After Stella, we show the world again what 22 students from the University of Technology in Eindhoven are capable of in our premium event.


As said, next week is the moment we all have been waiting for: the car presentation! On Thursday, the 2nd of July at 4 PM, we reveal the car of the future. You are all invited to see what we have been working on for 10 months at the campus of our university. Hope too see you all!


In order to make efficient use of our own energy and qualities, Martijn van Westerop (former National Dutch hockey player) provided us, voluntary, with a training. He is a performance consultant and coach, who supports organisations and individuals to become sustainable high performers. He gave us great insights about how we can work as optimal as possible. He will give us a second session in August and a Skype session when we are in Australia.

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Hi! I’m Ruud and together with Steven & Xander, we form the group of software engineers for this years solar team. 

For many people our task is hard to understand – that is because what we do is barely noticeable. But why? To make our task clear, let me compare the car to the human body. To move your own body you need your legs, just like the car needs an engine. However, your legs need to know how to move. That is where your brain comes in. Similar to how your body needs a brain, our car needs software to tell it what to do. And similar to your brain, our task is to make sure you are not bothered with the complex task of moving your leg.

All right, but why is it complex? To explain that, let me take a simple scenario from our actual car. To move our motors, we can ‘tell’ them to move forward. But when should we allow to move our motors forward? Well, when the driver presses the gas pedal obviously! But, how about when our car is set in reverse? Or when there is a charging cable plugged in to (dis)charge the car? Well, you would not want to drive forwards when the car is in reverse, neither damaging your car because you forgot about the charging cable!

Okay, so that is a bit more complex. But that is not everything. We also have many more other features in our car, like cruise control or one of the many safety features. As one might expect, each of these makes the car more and more complex. To make sure our software is as safe and reliable as possible in our solar powered family car, while also making sure the driver can use these complex systems in an easy way, we are working around to clock!

Curious to find out how we test and fix any issues we have? Xander will tell you all about it in the next section!

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In the previous months we designed and tested software on test electronics. Using the test electronics, we were able to design, implement, and test the software to the point it could control the various parts of a virtual car. This made sure that we had ‘working’ software when the final electronics started to arrive. Obviously the test electronics are not exactly the same as the final electronics, so we did expect issues to arise.

To prevent those issues, we tested the software on the final electronics when they arrived. We slowly worked towards a single test program that would test all the electronics required to drive. We first integrated the individual pieces of electronics with their software. Here, bugs were caused due to a minor requirement detail which was understood differently by a software engineer and electrical engineer.

The next step was to combine the various parts, piece by piece. Eventually we were able to start the test-setup for the car by pressing the on/off button. After starting the test-setup, we could drive the motor with the gas pedal and brake regeneratively (recovering energy) again with the brake pedal. This means that the most vital electronics all work! The MPPTs (electronics for the solar panels) have also been tested, but have not been integrated yet. This now has my focus, along side the various auxiliaries, such as exterior lights, steering wheel controls and the board computer.


The Dutch Technology Week kicked-off with a quiz night. Solar Team Eindhoven participated with 2 teams from both the formal and current team. From the 242 teams, STE ended up on both the 44th place and the 2nd place! Again a good performance from the smart members of Solar Team Eindhoven.


During the Dutch Technology Week, we also attended PANalytical with Stella. With a strong sun, it was a perfect day to show world’s first solar-powered family car again. It is nice to see that Stella stills inspires people for sustainable mobility. Let us hope the next car will inspire just as much.


Two team members received an invitation from his Majesty King Willem – Alexander to join a Symposium about Energy. We visited the Royal Palace in Amsterdam and discussed about the future of energy. It is great to talk with passionate people about the development of our brand new car. And as a surprise we offered the princesses Amalia, Alexia and Ariane a little present: good looking mini-Stella’s.


Last month, we had a contest about the body of our car. From all the submissions, we have the following winners: Wilma and Jan Brands, Stella van Rijn, Femke Brouwr, Ninja Bakermans, Raymond Bruggeman, and Wies Bruggeman. Congratulations and the prices are coming at your way.




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