To say a look inside the trophy cabinet of the Monash Motorsport team was impressive would be an understatement.
Behind the glass is a stack of awards, each showing an occasion said team has taken one of its race cars – designed and built on-site entirely by students at its Clayton campus in Melbourne’s east from the ground up – out into the world and smashed its rivals overseas.
Since mid-2018, Monash Motorsport had won nine Australasian competitions, achieved 40 awards on an international podium, and is now the highest-ranking Australian team on the World Rankings Leaderboard, as well as third in the world for the electric category.
Established in 2000, the same year as the inception of the Formula Student competition in Australia (started by the Society of Automotive Engineers Australasia), Monash Motorsport was one of the first teams to exist outside of the United States – where the contest was first founded. .
It boasts the support of a number of big sponsors, such as LiDAR tech firm Baraja and industrial equipment supplier Hi-Tech Metrology, as well as Dr Alan Finkel – former Monash Chancellor and now Special Adviser to the Australian Government on low emissions technology – as a donor.
Made up of around 80 students studying a range of disciplines from engineering and business, to law, science and design, the team began working on internal combustion engined race cars – but switched to autonomous and electric vehicles after ranking first in the world and needing a new challenge which was more future-focused.
In 2017, members designed and competed with their first electric vehicle before turning their hand to developing a competition-ready driverless car a year later. By 2019, Monash became, and remains, the only student team in Australia to have such a vehicle capable of dynamically navigating any given track.
Following an extended concept development period due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team’s most ambitious concept yet – its M22 all-wheel-drive, autonomous integrated vehicle – is capable of both driven and driverless racing. This vehicle concept, says Monash, pushes the frontiers of autonomous technology with a more powerful and efficient electrical powertrain, built from the ground up with driverless capabilities in mind.
M22 has improved aerodynamics and vehicle dynamics compared to the team’s previous efforts to optimize performance through increased downforce and handling capabilities. With an estimated mass of 237 kilograms, Monash’s second-generation monocoque and total power limit of 80kW drives Fischer hub motors at each wheel.
A cutting-edge LiDAR system has an approximate 45 meter range, and the in-house designed battery management system and single quad-channel inverter are optimized for efficiency and safety – weighing less than previous designs.
Next steps for the vehicle are to race it in Australia at the end of this year, before heading over to take part in the European competitions – which will be held next June, July and August.
At Monash University’s recent open day, CEO of the team, Chhavi Khathuria gave Wheels Exclusive access behind the scenes at its facility – the Monash Makerspace – and gave us a glimpse of how both the EV and autonomous cars work.