Student team URE presents latest race car; faster through corners and higher top speed

The URE18: faster through corners and higher top speed. Photo: URE
The URE18: faster through corners and higher top speed. Photo: URE
Aim is a place in the top five of the world rankings

The 80 students of University Racing Eindhoven (URE) are ready to compete with other university racing teams from around the world on the race circuits of Assen, Budapest and Germany’s famous Hockenheimring. Their weapon? The URE18, their new electric and autonomous race car that can go even faster through corners thanks to a new aerodynamic package and autonomous system. As a result, the top speed is dozens of km/h higher this year, for both the electric and autonomous versions.

The improvements mean that this year, URE will again compete for the top positions in the so-called Formula Student competition. That is the world’s largest engineering design competition where universities from all’over the world compete annually in Formula 1-like race cars. A place in the top five in the world rankings is the goal. The URE18, which weighs just 200 kilos, will compete in both the driver-driven and autonomous class categories. In fact, at the push of a button, students switch the car from piloted to fully autonomous driving.

Part of the aim is to show what is possible with autonomous mobility. "We want to drive autonomously faster than a human in the future. Our goal is to eventually take on an F1 driver like Max Verstappen," says Quinten Kustermans, responsible for autonomous systems.

Winning, just like Verstappen

URE competes at the TT Circuit in Assen (both electric and autonomous), Budapest (autonomous) and at Germany’s Hockenheimring (both electric and autonomous). In the past, the student team managed to win several races. One of these was their first autonomous race, three years ago at the Barcelona Formula 1 circuit. Exactly, the circuit where Max Verstappen also once scored his first victory.

Confidence is high within the team, and that has to do with the changes to the race car this year. These include a revamped autonomous system. Thanks to improved LiDAR sensor and camera integration, the car’s ’vision’ is even sharper. "It is now possible to see one-and-a-half times further ahead than last year. Also, we now see the track in colour. The car recognises the track better in difficult situations. As a result, the top speed of the autonomous system has been increased from 75km/h to 90km/h. The top speed for electric racing has been increased to 105km/h. The car can also go through corners faster this year," Kustermans explained.

Faster and more reliable

The car is faster, more stable and more reliable than ever, and that pleases team manager Daan Vloet: "The car drove its first metres already on 18 April 2024 which is unique in URE’s history. Especially when you consider that we only started designing the URE18 in September 2023. The early start gives us three times more testing time than previous years’ cars. This allows more time to tune the car optimally and make it reliable for the races."

URE’s success is due to the dedication of the students and the support of sponsors. But URE is also more than a race team. Like any TU/e student team, it is a place for students to gain practical experience alongside the theory taught in lectures. This prepares students for jobs with, for example, major motorsport teams in Formula 1, or elsewhere in the industry. Battery and drive train manager Lenn van der Veken emphasises this: "The experience we gain here is invaluable. We learn not only about technique, but also about teamwork and perseverance."

Meanwhile, the team is looking at next year already. Vloet: "We are now celebrating the URE18 and want to perform to the maximum, but behind the scenes we are already busy working on the URE19. Every day is a challenge to make our cars faster and better than their predecessors. This will never stop."