Designers of vehicles of the future

The constructions of the members of the Student Association for Vehicle Aerodynamics (SKAP) are one of their kind, do not look the way ordinary vehicles do, and achieve more than ordinary vehicles.
They are incredibly successful when it comes to Shell Eco-marathons. This year SKAP also returned with medals – PAKS took 2nd place in its class for the second time in a row!
We spoke to Adrianna Kaźmierczak – the Head of SKAP and Krzysztof Banasik- the Leader of PAKS project.

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Another edition of Shell Eco-marathon and another victory for SKAP members. Have you got any recipe for success in this competition?

Krzysztof Banasik: I guess the recipe is simple – a carefully designed project and teamwork. In working on vehicles, good teamwork among the Student Association members seems to be crucial. We support and motivate each other as well as share our knowledge among the group and that is the root of our fantastic results.
We often find out that not everything is working the way it should or the way we expected. Nevertheless, that gives us an extra “kick” to work harder on the project. The fact that there is such a diversity among us, gives us the advantage to combine knowledge from various fields. You need to be able to work on technology in a broad sense – from drive to laminating carbon composites and modeling body of the car. We work on all parts with great detail and know the car inside-out and that gives us an advantage to compete with best teams, and not only from Europe!

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Similarly to last year’s achievements PAKS was behind the team from France. They won with a big lead. What is the reason why are they so powerful? Does PAKS have a chance to catch up with their car?

KB: This year’s result of PAKS is similar to previous races on a very high level. Unfortunately, we did not manage to improve it as not all the innovations that we implemented worked as we expected.
I guess the biggest difference between our team and the French one is that their vehicle is an effect of work done mainly by the employees of their university – people with many years of experience in the industry. Our Association for Vehicle Aerodynamics SKAP is a student organization and we are responsible for designing and constructing the vehicles, trying to limit the interference of outsiders and professionals. With this kind of approach, we believe we learn much more based on our mistakes made in a group of people of similar age.
In case of the French team, our PAKS has already beaten their vehicle once before. We promise that we will do everything to get the highest score next year in London.

PAKS is quite old now. Is its time coming to an end?
KB: PAKS has been with us for past 5 years and has gone through many modifications since. It allows us to come to interesting conclusions on building ultra energy-efficient vehicles. We are slowly approaching the time of its expiry, therefore, we are already working on its successor. It will be lighter and more aerodynamic which should help with winning the Shell Eco-marathon.

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How do you estimate Kropelka’s (DROP) start in 2015? Why did it not achieve the official result this time?
Adrianna Kaźmierczak: We are all very sorry that we could not present the new Kropelka in its full capacity. We have been working on this project for the last two years and we are certain that its potential will make it possible to beat the record or maybe even exceed the barrier of 1000km/1l of petrol.
Unfortunately, in this year’s edition of Shell Eco-marathon we got held back by problems with electronics steering the engine and there was no possibility of dealing with the fault there and then. Nevertheless, we are very content with the work done on this construction and we are looking into the future with much optimism, and speed of course.

Does the new Kropelka have potential to beat the record of Poland?

AK: The new Kropelka is a vehicle with lots of advanced and innovative elements. Thanks to that we do not lag behind the competition from western universities. In our opinion, Kropelka definitely has potential and we will certainly try to beat our record. In Rotterdam during the technical inspection, it went through 8 out of 10 tests. We got excluded out of the other two because of the problems mentioned before. It was a valuable lesson for us and we have already drawn many conclusions from that situation. After making a few adjustments and changes to the components, we are ready for taking up new challenges. The official new score will be registered in one year, although the unofficial results will show much earlier that the new Kropelka (Drop) will raise the standards even higher.

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What are the plans for the near future? The successor of PAKS, development of Kropelka (DROP)?
AK: Currently, working on Kropelka is our priority. Apart from the electronics steering the engine, the construction is finished, but to beat the record of Poland (which is 659km/1l established by the first Kropelka) we have a long way ahead. We need to work on the strategy and components of the vehicle. We hope that we will beat the record during the races in Rockingham at the end of June.
KB: PAKS will certainly take part in Shell Eco-marathonie in 2016 but in 2017 we are planning to have a debut of its successor which is currently being designed.

We wrote about SKAP’s sucess in the last Shell Eco-marathon on our website.

Photos: official SKAP FB fanpage

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