Brake Dynamometer Development: Unveiling Precision and Performance; Electrification of Motorsports and Its Impact on the Automotive World

Sporysz, Benjamin, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Momot, Michael, EN-Mech & Aero Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Francisco, Pedro Augusto, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

The transformative power of technology in competitive environments serves as a dual beacon of innovation and challenge, exemplified in both the development of a brake dynamometer for Formula SAE and the broader electrification of motorsports. The technical research report focuses on the creation of a specialized brake dynamometer to enhance braking systems for Formula SAE vehicles, a project driven by the need for precise performance measurements under simulated race conditions. In contrast, the STS research paper investigates how the electrification of motorsports impacts automotive technology and consumer vehicle preferences, driven by environmental sustainability goals. Despite their distinct focuses—one on a specific racing application, and the other on a sweeping industry trend—both projects highlight the critical role of engineering innovation in advancing automotive technologies and their societal implications.
The brake dynamometer project addresses a specific need within the Formula SAE competition: to test and refine vehicle braking systems efficiently and reliably. By simulating real-world braking forces and conditions, the dynamometer aids in optimizing the braking performance of race cars, critical not only for safety but for competitive advantage. The development process involved detailed material selection, design iterations, and integration of advanced sensors to measure variables like torque, pressure, and temperature, which are crucial for evaluating the effectiveness of braking systems under the rigorous demands of racing.
The results from the brake dynamometer testing provided conclusive data that informed improvements in the braking systems for the Formula SAE vehicles. The discussions centered around the interpretation of data on brake torque and temperature, which directly influenced decisions on brake pad materials and rotor designs. Ultimately, the project concluded that the brake dynamometer was essential in reducing the development time and costs associated with live testing on tracks, allowing for more rapid and focused enhancements in vehicle safety and performance.
The research question explored in the STS paper was how the electrification of motorsports influences technological development and consumer preferences within the automotive industry. The significance of this study lies in its ability to link technological innovations in motorsports, such as electric powertrains and advanced battery systems, with broader societal impacts, particularly in terms of sustainable transportation solutions. The methodology combined a review of existing literature with qualitative interviews and comparative analysis of electric versus combustion engine racing platforms.
Evidence from various motorsports innovations, including those in Formula E, demonstrated that technologies developed on the racetrack often lead to improvements in consumer vehicles, particularly in terms of energy efficiency and emissions reductions. The results revealed a growing acceptance of electric vehicles among consumers, influenced by their exposure to electric racing. The conclusions drawn from the research underscored the role of motorsports as a catalyst for advancing automotive technology and shaping public perceptions towards more sustainable transportation options.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
electric racing, braking dynamometer, societal implications of racing

School of Engineering and Applied Science

Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering

Technical Advisor: Michael Momot

STS Advisor: Pedro Francisco

Technical Team Members: Benjamin Sporysz, Ivan Pudwill, David Mead, Caroline Peterson

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