Brake Dynamometer Development: Unveiling Precision and Performance; Charging Forward: The Role of Right to Repair in Accelerating the EV Revolution

Pudwill, Ivan, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Momot, Michael, EN-Mech & Aero Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Stafford, William, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

Electric vehicles (EVs) represent a rapidly evolving frontier in the automotive industry, spearheading a global transition towards sustainable transportation. The EV revolution is crucial for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and combating climate change. As more and more EVs hit the road, critical discussions have emerged around key issues such as repairability, sustainability, and performance in competitive environments. This thesis explores these areas through two interconnected projects: a technical one focused on enhancing braking performance for Formula SAE electric racing vehicles, and a sociotechnical one examining the impact of the absence of comprehensive right-to-repair legislation on the EV revolution.
The technical project, "Brake Dynamometer Development: Unveiling Precision and Performance," aims to design and construct a brake dynamometer for Virginia Motorsports, a Formula SAE team. The project focused on developing a specialized testing device to simulate braking forces experienced during Formula SAE competitions to allow rapid iteration and physical testing of brake rotor geometry and material. The dynamometer was designed to assess key braking system performance characteristics including rotor temperature and braking force, emphasizing safety, reliability, and optimization under extreme racing conditions.
With the construction of the dynamometer, the team can now simulate various braking scenarios, evaluate different materials, and optimize component design, contributing to the overall competitive edge of Virginia Motorsports. Most importantly, different rotor geometries can be tested to arrive at an optimal geometry that carefully balances mass, braking force, and rotor temperature to provide optimal braking performance throughout a race while minimizing the chance of brake fade, a dangerous phenomenon when brake rotors get too hot and the available braking force sharply declines. The construction of the dynamometer will benefit the team for years to come due to its simple and adaptable design.
The sociotechnical paper, "Charging Forward: The Role of Right to Repair in Accelerating the EV Revolution," examines the implications of restrictive repair policies on the sustainability and adoption of electric vehicles. The paper explores the idea that without comprehensive right-to-repair legislation, the transition to electric vehicles would be hindered, affecting consumer adoption and environmental goals. Traditionally, conversations concerning right-to-repair are focused on household appliances and consumer electronics; however, this issue is particularly relevant to EVs as they become more technologically advanced and reliant on proprietary systems, making independent repairs challenging. Additionally, the presence of dangerous high voltage systems provides another significant barrier to EV repair. Newcomers to the EV market, like Tesla, are also in a unique position to restrict repair, due to their atypical direct to consumer business model which circumvents the needs for traditional dealerships and repair shops. The paper highlights how restrictive repair policies can inflate repair costs, reduce consumer choice, and increase electronic waste, undermining the environmental benefits of EVs.
By analyzing repair restrictions and their impacts, the paper highlights the importance of consumer rights and the need for legislative action to ensure a smooth and sustainable transition to electric vehicles. The lack of right-to-repair legislation can deter potential buyers from switching to EVs due to concerns over high repair costs and reliability issues. The paper calls for stronger legislation to protect consumers and encourage sustainable practices, aligning with broader goals of reducing emissions and promoting green technology.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Brake Dynamometer, Right to Repair, Electric Vehicle

School of Engineering and Applied Science

Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering

Technical Advisor: Michael Momot

STS Advisor: William Stafford

Technical Team Members: Ben Sporysz, David Mead, Caroline Peterson

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