After having entered the Prototype category multiple times, Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) recently completed its first Urban Concept car for the Shell Eco Marathon.
In an effort to create something new and gain more experience, the UBD Shell Eco Marathon (UBDSEM) team chose to participate in the Urban Concept category this year. In this category, four-wheeled cars have familiar road car features as opposed to the Prototype category, which emphasises lightweight and ultra-efficient vehicles which are generally three-wheeled.
"Urban Concept has very different design elements, safety standards, rules and regulations," UBDSEM representative Akil said. "We had initial difficulties as we had no foundation for the category. Our hands-on skills were minimal in terms of metal work, wood work, welding and fabrication but that got solved quickly thanks to the guidance of faculty of Integrated Technologies (FIT) Technician Pg Md Aderus Pg Haji Tengah and Supervisor Chong Kim Onn."
He further explained that the team had to deal with very complex structures during the creation of the chassis and electrical systems, which required adapters.
Due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, the organisers of the Shell Eco Marathon put a halt to the on-track competitions and moved to a virtual competition. Participants were invited to build their vehicles since the organisers will still be carrying out technical inspections virtually. A new event was introduced, the Autonomous Programming Competition, where participants have been asked to develop programming codes for path planning, perception, and control algorithms for an autonomous vehicle using the Robot Operating System (ROS) which will then be tested in a simulated environment using Microsoft AirSim with the Unreal Engine.
"The organisers are still keeping their hopes up to return to the on-track competition as soon as it's allowed but as of now it's still virtual for the sake of everyone's safety which is always their priority," Akil added.
UBD's greatest achievement to date is the Prototype Hydrogen Fuel Cell car "Nakhoda" by team GenNEXT Pejuang which made a breakthrough record by winning third place in its category in the Shell Eco Marathon Asia (SEMA). It was the first time Brunei placed in the top three position in the competition since its first participation in 2011. Nakhoda was part of a sustained research effort in energy studies that is rapidly growing in scope in UBD. With the support of the Centre for Advanced Material and Energy Sciences (CAMES) and Brunei Shell Petroleum, the students were able to complete the car within eight months. With sustainability and efficiency in mind, the team put together the car using recycled materials and found innovative ways to create sustainable materials using DIY (Do-It-Yourself) techniques.
UBDSEM is part of Incubation, one of four experiential learning options available for Discovery Year. Under the GenNEXT Programme, students spend their third year gaining experience and skills off-campus. GenNEXT is a broad-based transdisciplinary programme, designed for students to excel according to their individual learning styles. Since its inception in 2009, UBD students have not only excelled academically, they have been shown to have developed leadership and entrepreneurial skills through experiential learning.
The Shell Eco Marathon is a unique competition that challenges students around the world to design, build and drive the most energy-efficient car. It promotes innovativeness, experiential learning as well as entrepreneurial thinking. SEM began in 1939 at a Shell research laboratory in the United States as a competition between scientists vying for fuel efficiency of their vehicles. Since then, the competition has expanded to Asia and Europe, and has sparked passionate debate around the future of energy and mobility.
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