23/10/2018 by Kvaser

Kvaser-Sponsored Carnegie Mellon Racing Team Wins Big at Electric Car Competitions


The Carnegie Mellon Racing (CMR) team has had a huge year. In 2018, only the second year the team has had a competitive electric vehicle, CMR swept the two major collegiate electric vehicle competitions, bringing home first place overall at the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (FSAE) Electric Vehicle Competition, as well as first place overall at the Formula North competition in Barrie, Ontario, where they also came first in the Endurance category and the overall Dynamics category, which is comprised of all the competition’s performance-related events.

Carnegie Mellon Racing is one of Kvaser’s university sponsorship recipients, using the Kvaser Memorator Pro 2xHS v2 for data acquisition while testing their electric race cars. The Kvaser data logger was recommended to CMR by 2018 team president, Sam Westenberg, who we spoke to about the team’s recent wins.

“The IP67 rating – meaning it’s shock-proof, water-proof and dust-proof – is necessary for our uses”

Westenberg became familiar with the use of Kvaser devices during an internship at electric car maker Tesla, which uses Kvaser products in the design and testing of their vehicles. He suggested the Memorator to the team because of its reliability and reputation within the automotive industry. Initially, the team used it as a backup to their custom-built data logging system, but the Memorator proved so useful that it quickly became CMR’s primary data acquisition method.

“We definitely appreciate how durable it is,” said Westenberg. “The IP67 rating – meaning it’s shock-proof, water-proof and dust-proof – is necessary for our uses: driving in the rain and dust a lot, and in an extremely high-vibration environment.”

The team’s winning vehicle, 18e, features a distributed system of 10 ECUs. They use the Memorator to analyze and record data from these internal computers, combined with several higher-level software programs: “We upload the data to MatLab for number crunching,” said Westenberg, “or we import it into CANape, an auto calibration tool by Vector that’s widely used throughout the industry.”

While the CMR team hasn’t yet utilized the t programming language, which allows users to customize behaviors on certain Kvaser devices, Westenberg was particularly excited about one of the Memorator’s customizable features: “It lets you set specific triggers to tell it when to start or stop recording, which helps us isolate the data we care about. In the past, we’d literally have to sift through hours of recorded data to find what we were looking for. This makes our lives much easier.”


Far from these wins giving CMR a big head, it has been a very humbling experience.

“The team has existed since the 1990s, and we’ve been competing in the Formula SAE competition since then, but we switched from combustion to electric in 2013. In combustion, we had moderate success, scoring in the middle of the pack. And while we’ve been competing in the electric competition for five years, we only competed in the static categories for the first few years.”

So what's next for the team?

“We want to stay competitive. We found a great formula, so we don’t want to reinvent the wheel. Our strategy is mostly the same as it’s been: to change as few things as possible year to year – only change the things that are backed up by data analysis that are going to benefit us the most. And hopefully we can produce the same results!”

We’re cheering for you, Carnegie Mellon Racing!

To learn how Kvaser supports the work of students and university teams working on CAN-related projects, read about our university sponsorship program.