Digital Twin Sophistication at 2019 Formula Student Germany

By Leigh-Anderson

Siemens Digital Industries Software’s academic program has been supporting Formula Student Germany (FSG) teams with engineering software, training, and collaborations for many years. Siemens was again a sponsor of the 2019 FSG event held at the Formula 1 track in Hockenheim, Germany, August, 2019, including the second year of the prestigious “Siemens Digital Twin Engineering Excellence Award”. 

The amazing, sophisticated teams of Formula Student Germany 2019. Teams come from all over Germany and many other countries.© FSG, Photo by Vivek Maru

Quote from first place Digital Twin winner GreenTeam Uni Stuttgart:  “Using digital twins in Formula Student is one of the key factors to be able to win competitions, save money and keep teams organized. With more than 8000 manufactured parts, 120 processes and 4.5 TB of CAD data, the need for a structured organization arises.”

This world-class FSG university real-world student competition not only includes combustion and electric powered racecars, the event features the most advanced student-built autonomous formula racecars in the world, in its fourth year. The autonomous racecar class is called Formula Driverless.

All the top-tier autonomous electric, and combustion teams at FSG use a Digital Twin style engineering methodology with extensive use of virtual models, simulation and product data management, and virtually every top-tier team uses Siemens’ engineering software.

KA-RaceIng team’s Product & Data Management (PDM) flow process diagram – the essence of Digital Twin methodology as implemented by a top Formula Student team from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany.  The diagram shows the feed-forward and feed-back loops that are the essence of the methodology.

Siemens Digital Industries Software’s Global Academic Partnering group, as well as local country staff, offers software grants, technical support, workshops and online training at no cost to Formula Student/SAE teams worldwide, so they can implement Digital Twin engineering methodology with a powerful and integrated software suite. In addition to extensive training workshops at the FSG event, Siemens also hosts workshops in the Fall at two Siemens training centers. Online/on-demand software training courses, and Formula Student-specific tutorials and expert tip articles are also available year-round. For Mentor online courses see this link (teams can access at zero cost.)

FSG Event Overview

The Formula Student Germany 2019 competition challenged university undergraduate and graduate students in 119 European and international teams to conceive, design, fabricate, develop, test, and compete with formula-style racecars. Teams compete in static presentations such as design, business, and cost to judges from the auto industry, then compete in dynamic events on the tarmac such as acceleration, skidpad, autocross, endurance, and energy-efficiency. Using best-in-class, integrated engineering software from Siemens helps with all aspects of the competition.

First let’s meet some of the top teams and their stunning cars to set the stage for the 2019 Digital Twin award and then see some technology examples.

The 2019 4th place in the Siemens Digital Twin Award as well as FSG 1st Place
overall Formula Driverless class was won by AMZ Racing from ETH Zurich
University. No hands on wheel – no driver! Photo by AMZ Racing

This electric-drive vehicle is the fastest student-built autonomous car in the world! Also featuring a super light carbon-fiber composite chassis, and a potent carbon aero-downforce package for rapid cornering, this car was also optimized with Siemens’ STAR-CCM+ 3D-CFD simulation software well before the racecar was fabricated, definitely a Digital Twin method.

Digital Twin Engineering Excellence Award

Siemens sponsors a prestigious award at FSG – the Siemens Digital Twin Engineering Excellence Award, which honors student teams for their achievements in this most modern and effective engineering methodology. In fact, without the advanced simulation and design practice of Digital Twin, it’s simply impossible for teams to compete at the highest levels of FSG!

Watch this video of the 2019 Siemens Digital Twin Award Ceremony (skip to the video time stamp of 54:35).

Siemens also recognized the ‘Most Rapid Progress Toward Digital Twin’ Honorable Mention by the Dynamis PRC team from Politecnico di Milano university – and the Special Mention of the fourth-place expert Digital Twin team, AMZ Racing from ETH Zurich university, which also won 1st place in the Formula Driverless class.

1st Place Winner Siemens Digital Twin Award – the GreenTeam Uni Stuttgart team.
Formula Electric car on left, Formula Driverless car on right. ©FSG, Photo by Johannes Klein

The First place winner of the 2019 Digital Twin Award, for the second year in a row, was Greenteam Uni Stuttgart.  GreenTeam also achieved 7th place in the highly competitive Formula Electric class, and 6th place in the extremely difficult technology challenge of the Formula Driverless class.

First place Digital Twin Award winner GreenTeam Uni
Stuttgart in front of the Siemens Software booth at FSG

The team also improved their self-developed PDM (product data management) system, such as a weight-management tool, an aerodynamic toolbox, a new smartphone app application to upload construction, production and testing data, directly linked to car components. Using new camera-link with visual recognition of vehicle components, accessing part information is quick and easy. For reliability, every part is logged with mileage, driving and weather conditions for preventive maintenance prediction. They even made a mobile phone version of their PDM software.

The GreenTeam car’s all carbon-fiber composite chassis and aero downforce package were designed and simulated with NX for 3D CAD and STAR-CCM+ for 3D computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation. They even designed their own electric, in-hub motors with a sophisticated embedded cooling design. This enabled these powerfully compact motors to perform throughout the lengthy endurance event – in their rapid all-wheel-drive racecars.

The Greenteam Uni Stuttgart team also won the
Digital Twin Award in 2018. © FSG, Photo by Vivek Maru

The KA-RaceIng team from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology earned a close second place in Digital Twin excellence – earning a total score across the 7 judging metrics that was a mere 1% behind First place.

The impressive KA RaceIng team from KIT made extensive use of Digital Twin engineering methodology to win second place of the Siemens Digital Twin Award. ©FSG, Photo by Johannes Klein

The KA-RaceIng team presented their sophisticated use of 3D design, 3D-print-prototyping and intricate metal-printed parts to Siemens’ judges. These advanced digital twin style parts propelled them to second place in the hotly competitive Formula Electric class, and another outstanding second place in the extremely difficult technology challenge of the Formula Driverless class! … plus a strong 19th place in the large and competitive Formula Combustion class. Like the GFR team, this team pulled of the quite difficult feat of designing, building and competing three (3!) racecars in one year – made possible only with Digital Twin methods and effective software with training and support!

The unique Global Formula Racing team (GFR) was awarded the Digital Twin third place – GFR is the only fully international Formula Student team in the world – including DHBW Ravensburg University students in Germany synched up with Oregon State University students in the U.S. 

The uniquely international team, GFR, earned 3rd place Siemens Digital
Twin Award makes extensive use of Siemens design and simulation tools in all
aspects of their racecar design, simulation and fabrication. © FSG, Photo by Johannes Klein

GFR’s motto is “TWO NATIONS. ONE TEAM. ONE MISSION”. They co-design/co-simulate/co-fabricate and co-competed a total of three racecars (Electric, Combustion and Driverless). They coordinated this effort across 8,000 kilometers and the Atlantic Ocean, which is only achievable with Digital Twin methods. GFR uses the entire range of Siemens software tools. Against 60 other teams, many that have significantly larger budgets, GFR earned an impressive second place in the hotly-contested Formula Combustion class.

Students gather at the FSG awards ceremony – excited to see who will
win Siemens’ Digital Twin Award and the other special awards.
(This photo mainly shows just the near half of the very large room.)

Industry commitment

FSG is the most intensely industry-supported university competition in the world. These students are highly sought after by industry because they are prepared to do real engineering immediately – teams not only design and build a new race car from the ground up, they must work as a team to do this while handling business, project and cost management, marketing, recruiting and training new members, and logistics.

Signage at FSG listing the major sponsors who contribute funding and
many volunteer judges to help make FSG a success every year,
plus erecting temporary buildings and tent-booths for recruiting

The German auto industry strongly supports FSG. Every major automaker has a significant presence, including volunteering many of the 450 judges, safety inspectors and course workers. For example, Continental and Volkswagen both had large 2-story temporary buildings for recruiting and brand-building with the invaluable talent of FSG students. Many FSAE event sponsors are among Siemens’ engineering software customers. We are pleased to aid in preparing students for their careers through Siemens’ support of FSG!

Engineering Students Depend on Siemens Software

Siemens Software supports ~300 Formula Student/SAE teams worldwide. This includes nearly every top-tier team in the world. Teams are turning to Siemens because they realize that every team that has risen to top-tier uses Digital Twin methods and that Siemens can help them implement Digital Twin methods with Siemens engineering software.

For example, Siemens collaborated with four student teams to develop a STAR-CCM+ simulation template so that students can build a complete 3D-CFD aerodynamics simulation in 1 hour.

Another collaboration with the California Polytechnic San Louis Obispo team led to the development of an article that shows how to setup a radiator duct and fan sim in STAR-CCM+. This includes a Digital Twin style experimental validation and design exploration studies.

Lightweight carbon fiber wheels are key to on-track performance.
The top photo is of a wheel during fabrication; and the
bottom photo shows an assembled wheel+tire sitting on the ply-cutter table.

Siemens’ Fibersim software saves a lot of money, labor and materials cost, using it’s unique fabrication-simulation ability Also see the Global Formula Racing example – report on how Fibersim helped them develop their composite parts while saving time and material cost.

T.U. Munich team’s sophisticated Formula Electric AWD-Drivetrain
& wiring harness, designed with Siemens NX and VeSys sofware The
virtual car was fully-designed before fabrication Digital Twin style, with digitally-driven fabrication of many parts
Note the sophisticated organic design of the wheel-hub bracket which holds the wheel, brake rotors, and in-hub electric motors, holding up against large forces encountered in a race car.

More and more teams ask for Siemens software tools along with product data management, mechatronics, and our other software. We also provide supported teams with no-cost on-demand/online training and FSAE-specific design tutorials – all the better to enable Digital Twin methodology. Siemens’ Formula Student and FSAE forum has many valuable tips for designing, simulation, guidance for accessing e-learning, and much more.

of Digital Twin Engineering
Technology Examples from FSG

Greenteam Uni Stuttgart’s racecar was optimized for drag vs downforce using Digital Twin simulation (using Siemens NX and STAR-CCM+ software) to achieve world-class performance on track. The same methods used by professional Formula 1 teams.
Greenteam Uni Stuttgart’s self-developed Product Data Management (PDM) system includes hundreds of documented procedures to guide current members and train new team members for consistent Digital Twin implementation. It even automatically tracks low-inventory parts and generates orders to suppliers. Lifetime maintenance risks are managed for each part on the racecar, like professional racing teams of the 24 hours of Le Mans series, or Formula 1 teams.
KA-RaceIng team from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology developed this impressively compact and high torque per kg electric motor designed for all four wheel hubs of their AWD Formula Electric racecar, using electromagnetic simulators and 3D-printing prototyping (white plastic version above) and 3D metal-printing, with intricate, internal cooling design simulations and fabrication. A very Digital Twin component!
The KIT team, like many top teams, has a customized lap-time simulator to explore the complex trade-offs between a large range of design variables.
Note the 1:1 design of the GFR team’s virtual model versus the fabricated car. They keep the two constantly in synch .
Planning the 3D routing of the cooling system’s pipes through GFR’s
carbon fiber composite chassis would be extremely difficult
without virtual 3D design. Siemens’ NX software is used throughout.
The GFR team’s bell crank suspension part is analyzed for weight vs strength using Siemens’ finite element analysis software.
KIT’s test rear wing with pressure sensors to validate CFD simulations – Feedback from physical to virtual is one of the hallmarks of Digital Twin Method.
Another method used by students to validate their aerodynamic models in STAR-CCM+ is a special paint that flows just enough to reveal air-currents on a wing.
KIT’s KA RaceIng has a sophisticated view of the
role of CFD simulations, using Siemens STAR-CCM+.
More examples of physical test setups to progress from virtual to
physical and back to virtual. By AMZ team from ETH Zurich university.
The GFR team’s wiring schematics designed in Siemen’s Mentor VeSys/Capital software
…and here is GFR team’s wiring harness design derived from the schematics,
by adding connectors, wire specs. Even the 3D wire-lengths were determined
virtually, using the integration between Siemens-Mentor VeSys/Capital
software and the chassis design in Siemens NX CAD software.
This sequence of plastic 3D-printed intake manifolds showed increasing levels of horsepower from left to right, resulting from exploring the design space with parametric-sweep CFD air-flow simulations, confirmed via these prototyping methods.
During Digital Twin judging, the AMZ team from ETH Zurich – showed another example of student-designed, advanced in-hub, custom electric motors, and the the 3D-printed motor-housing/upright brackets component. Water-cooled channels keep the motor going during endurance racing conditions.
Second place Digital Twin Award KIT’s KARaceIng at the Siemens Software booth at FSG (just the Formula Driverless car of their 3 cars .)
Third Place place Digital Twin Award – Global Formula Racing in front of the the Siemens software booth at FSG
A Digital Twin expert team, the TUfast team from the Technical University of
Munich won 2nd place of the Siemens Digital Twin Award in 2018, and the
2019 FSG 1st place overall in the highly competitive Formula Electric class,
with extensive use of Siemens software. ©FSG, Photo by Johannes Klein.

TUfast’s downforce aero package was optimized with Siemens’ STAR-CCM+ 3D aerodynamic simulation software.  NX software was used for CAD/CAM/CAE/3D-printing, and VeSys for electrical system/wire-harness design. Note the all-carbon-fiber construction and sophisticated aerodynamics package that enables cornering-power in excess of 2.5 g.


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