A solar vehicle with autonomous driving for the education of young people


Faculty: Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Computer Science and Information Technology Osijek

Country: Croatia

e-mail: zeljko.hederic@ferit.hr

A solar electric vehicle developed under the World Solar Challenge regulations uses photovoltaic panels to generate electricity for propulsion. The vehicle has been converted into a two-seater to accommodate two students and the steering system has been adapted to be operated by the dri-ver but monitored by a computer system that corrects the steering so that the vehicle stays on the set path at every moment of the journey and doesn’t exceed the permitted speed. The innovation is that the autonomous vehicle is used for education on driving according to the rules and the use of solar energy as a source of propulsion.
As part of the project “Research and Development of a Solar Electric Car”, which was financed by business partners and the Fund for Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency, the solar vehic-le CROsolar01 was developed and produced. In recent years, the vehicle has served as a learning platform to learn about the possibilities of using solar energy to power vehicles. As there’s no way for children of younger age to drive a solar vehicle safely, an autonomous monitoring system of all subsystems of the vehicle for electric machines and hybrid drives was developed in the lab so that the vehicle is able to drive autonomously according to a predefined trajectory and in a safe and appropriate way at speed. The next stage of development was for the autonomous system to fun-ction as a limiter of the driver’s control in the sense that the driver has some freedom of control (turning, accelerating) and the higher-level autonomous system responds only when the vehicle is travelling outside the tolerances of the predetermined trajectory of vehicle movement and speed.
Such systems require (in addition to separating physical commands into electrical commands) that the vehicle be equipped with additional sensory sensors (ultrasonic sensors, lidar, cameras) that anticipate the position of the vehicle’s movement and autonomously correct the position of the steering wheel and the speed of the vehicle to keep the vehicle moving in real time.Inside the ve-hicle cabin, the driver and passenger will have a range of data displayed on the monitors, allowing them to enhance their driving experience with a whole range of educational data.
In further development, several different electric vehicles (solar vehicle, electric quad) will be lin-ked together to simulate real-life situations at intersections and on the road and expand the auto-nomous vehicle system into an intelligent traffic management system. The developed autonomous monitoring system will have the possibility of being installed on a conventional vehicle with certain mechanical modifications.