AMZ Racing measures acceleration record for electric cars with optical sensor from Kistler

Students and alumni of Swiss technical universities under the leadership of ETH Zurich have once again set a new Guinness World Record, and this time with a truly incredible feat: their fully electric race car went from 0 to 100 km/h in under a second – officially measured with the Correvit SF-Motion optical sensor for vehicle dynamics measurement from Kistler.

Formula Student is the world's largest and most renowned race competition for young engineers, and it attracts students from across the globe. The first competition in Europe took place in 1998, and since 2010 the event has included electric cars, with all the teams particularly anxious to see who would break the world record for the fastest acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h. Now it appears that the Academic Motorsports Club Zurich (AMZ) – the team of students and alumni from ETH Zurich and the University of Applied Sciences Lucerne – have had a major breakthrough: in September 2023, with their electric race car, AMZ Racing was able to shatter the previous official record in the Guinness Book that was set by the University of Stuttgart in 2022 with an unbelievable acceleration time of 0.956 seconds – achieving an improvement of more than half of a second. This world record in acceleration was measured with a Correvit optical sensor for vehicle dynamics measurement from Kistler. The results were then analyzed with Kistler's jBEAM software, which is used for electric vehicle testing and development, among other things.

Driver Kate Maggetti shortly before AMZ Racing’s successful world record attempt for electric cars with support from Kistler.
Deep concentration before the big moment: Driver Kate Maggetti shortly before AMZ Racing’s successful world record attempt with support from Kistler.

From theory to practice and beyond

Let's start at the beginning: AMZ Racing has developed a completely new electric race car every year since 2006 in order to give the students the opportunity to apply their theoretical knowledge in the real world – and put it to the test in competition with teams from other universities. Not only has the Swiss team been among the world leaders in fully electric race cars since 2010, but they also have a fully autonomous driving system that also puts them ahead of the pack. For Jonas Hauser, who is about to complete his degree in Mechanical Engineering, this is his third year on the AMZ Racing team. In 2023, he was responsible for the gearbox and manufacturing of the electric race car, and he has now moved up to the leadership team as the CEO of AMZ Racing. He reports: “Our new car once again includes many unique features: from the integrated autonomous system that has made us the world's most successful driverless team to our one-of-a-kind hydraulic suspension all the way to the components we developed ourselves like the inverter and electric motor.”

Measurement technology crucial for testing electric vehicles

For their world record attempt, the engineers at AMZ Racing went back to the “mythen,” their car from 2019. They fully overhauled and optimized it in order to achieve the fastest possible acceleration. Active aerodynamic devices create a vacuum that presses the car onto the asphalt and – in combination with a newly developed drive train – maximizes the power transmitted to the tires. On 1 September 2023, the big day had finally arrived:

“For the first time ever, we were able to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in under one second with an electric car – that is truly a milestone. Without Kistler, it wouldn't have been possible for us to measure the world record for acceleration this way.”

Jonas Hauser, CEO of AMZ Racing

The contact-free Correvit SF-Motion optical sensor (2059A), which was installed in the front of the vehicle near the accelerator and brake pedals, is an innovative sensor for measuring vehicle dynamics parameters such as vehicle speed, acceleration and distance traveled with a high degree of precision and low signal delay. Its unique optical measurement technology makes it extremely resistant to environmental factors such as vibration, heat, and moisture, so it can be used on any surface.

For data evaluation, AMZ Racing used jBEAM Lab software from Kistler, which allows for quick and variable visualization and evaluation. Its wide range of functions makes the jBEAM measurement data analysis software an extremely powerful tool for a variety of different tasks in the field of automotive research and development, including electric vehicle testing. Roberto D'Amico, Head of Business Development Vehicle Testing at Kistler, says: “Achieving measurable improvements is the basis for innovation. At Kistler, we stand behind innovators like AMZ with our technology in order to precisely capture such improvements.” 

Precise measurement data at peak acceleration of 3.81 g

The race car needed just 12.24 meters to reach a speed of 100 kilometers per hour, and at one point a peak acceleration of 3.81 g was recorded. The direct CAN connection made it possible to read out all these vehicle dynamics measurands from the log data of the Correvit SF-Motion optical sensor. Gabriel Winterstein, System Developer Vehicle Dynamics at Kistler, was also on hand to assist the team with data evaluation and validation: “The sensor has an integrated Kalman filter that allows for a high-precision, noise-free speed signal and measures the acceleration values and yaw rate over the three axes. These measurement values are sent to the vehicle's control unit and to the external data acquisition 500 times a second.”

The data from the optical sensor for vehicle dynamics measurement was used for traction control. Plus, the data was also used intensively to test and adjust the controllers. For the official record however, the certification of the sensor and its measurement characteristics was a decisive factor. “This made it easy for us to have the record officially confirmed by Guinness World Records,” explains Hauser. “We are extremely pleased that we have Kistler on our side. They are the ideal partner for mastering these kinds of difficult measurement challenges. The precision of the sensor is extremely important because the measurement tolerance is added to the final time. This means the more precise the sensor is, the lower the measured time will be.”

As a partner of vehicle developers around the world that looks back on decades of tradition, Kistler is proud of its ability to solve highly difficult measurement challenges, even under extreme conditions. For this purpose, Kistler offers not only the technology of the Correvit series of optical sensors, but also a broad and innovative range of solutions – for vehicle dynamics, durability, tire testing, and more – that have long since proven themselves as a valuable companion in the development and testing of electric vehicles. In conclusion, Jonas Hauser expresses his thanks: “We have worked together with Kistler for many years, and for us it's clear that they're the best partner when it comes to high-precision sensors. We were therefore extremely pleased that Kistler once again offered us their support. Without Kistler, we would not have been able to shatter a world record in this way.”

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