Stability and Control – Braking For No One.

Stability and Control Subteam Manager – Cameron Blackwood

I have been a member of Stability & Control since USEV started. I would never claim to be an expert on steering systems or transmission, but I certainly know the ins and outs of the job as this year’s subteam manager.

Roughly speaking, Stability & Control handle all the moving components of the car and how the driver interacts with them. How will they steer the car? How will they brake? How will they control the motor?

That’s all us!

Picture by Mark Runnacles

We have had many different approaches in the last few years when it comes to steering. A rack and pinion in the first year, sway handles in the second year and now we have designed a more integrated sway handle system by connecting it to the tie-rod, underneath the driver. Though each of these designs have very different mechanisms, some of their elements have been proven to work and carried through the years such as the spindles.

The spindles are what connects the front wheels to the chassis in a way that allows them to rotate and steer the car. They must be designed meticulously since they need to hold a wheel, a brake calliper and a tie-rod. When you consider all the forces the spindles will experience, it is important that they are exceptionally strong!

Last years approach was to throw weight at it and make it as robust as possible, however with some clever modelling and testing the forces with FEA, we were able to reduce the weight by 40% without affecting the performance. Next step is to make them out of aluminium using a CNC mill to ensure all that attention to detail pays off.

Since Stability & Control handles lots of small jobs instead of working on one complete item, team members can find themselves working on different projects on a week by week basis. This keeps people engaged and benefits their understanding of the car since often these tasks will require work with other teams, such as calculating the transmission ratio with the motor team.

The variety and networking is what I have enjoyed about working in Stability & Control the most.