At Formula Electric Belgium, we continuously strive to innovate every aspect of our race car. This year we tried to take our ECU design to the next level! The Electronic Control Unit (ECU) is the brains of the car. All information available in the car is accumulated here and processed, which in turn controls every actuator, from the cooling fans to our semi-active suspension and even the 4 in-wheel motors. It’s clear that a performant and reliable ECU is crucial for great performances during the races.
The previous design was a very lightweight, custom-made PCB, capable of communicating with the battery, reading all sensors, controlling the motors and performing safety checks. Unfortunately, the previous ECU wasn’t capable of more complex tasks, like running multiple algorithms that control the motors, semi-active control systems but more importantly, autonomous systems we plan to implement in the future.
The goal of the new design is to be future proof. Just like the previous iteration, it needs to be small and light. On top of that, the CPU has to be more powerful, to support autonomous integration. While we’re redesigning, we also wanted to take the opportunity to simplify the design of the car, without sacrificing any features. By integrating the data-logging system and the telemetry system on the same PCB, we could reduce the number of components in the car.
As a result, we needed a new PCB design, with a lot of different components and a lot of different requirements with respect to the hardware.