Before the on-track events, Formula Hybrid teams must pass a series of technical inspections to ensure that their vehicles are reliable and safe. According to Jacob Gersh, a sophomore at the University of Michigan, one of the more challenging inspections is electrical inspection. Taking teams anywhere from a few hours to a full day to pass, this inspection ensures that the electrical systems on a competition vehicle function properly and automatically shut down in the case of an accident. To ensure that each Formula Hybrid car is safe, judges test the high and low voltage electrical systems on each team’s vehicle on the second day of the competition. If a vehicle’s electrical systems is not rules compliant, the competition’s judges inform the team and give them a reasonable timeframe to fix the problem.
“Our motto is ‘Design, build, test,’” explains Gersh. “During electrical inspection, our team often goes back to the ‘build’ phase, and then performs on-site tests to make sure our car complies with the competition’s rules.”
Mechanical inspection is conducted on the second day of the competition. While electrical inspection tests the safety of each hybrid vehicle’s power train, mechanical inspection examines the structural elements of each car. Charlie Delorenzo, a junior at UVM, explains that competition judges look at all of the components of a competition car, inspecting everything from the thickens of the tubing used for a car’s frame to the threads on the bolts which hold a car together.
“The preliminary examination usually takes about an hour and a half,” explains Delorenzo. “After the preliminary inspection, the competition judges tell teams what elements of the car need to be fixed before the team is allowed to hit the track. While the turn around time varies for each team, this year it took UVM about an hour make the modifications required to compete.”
While judges work with each team on an individual basis, this year’s mechanical and electrical inspections officially end at 4:00 PM today.