31st March 2023
Berkeley Green UTC rounded off the term with another fantastic project day led by four representatives from our tutor sponsor Lockheed Martin.
With its headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is an international company that specialises in global security and aerospace. It is principally focused on the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.
The UK Government plan for all new car sales to be electric from 2030, and to end the UK’s contribution to climate change by 2050. Many companies are seeking the opportunity to design and manufacture new technologies that meet the increasingly urgent demand for sustainable travel. Further to this, the possibilities of combining advancements in self-driving vehicle technology with the increasing popularity and coverage of third-party taxi booking services has the potential to revolutionise the taxi industry.
In view of these forthcoming advancements in technology, students were challenged to meet the design and programming brief for a driverless taxi that would operate in Gloucester. They were asked to consider the following factors for their prototype:
- Mandatory electric power
- Sensors must be included
- A plan to recharge vehicles is required
- A payment system must be considered
As always, the brief was split down into an Engineering and a Digital challenge to account for the diverse range of skills amongst our students.
Engineers were tasked with the body of the car, designing it in CAD, researching breakdown and recovery procedures, planning a maintenance schedule, determining battery and motor types, accessibility e.g. access for wheelchair users, and safety precautions e.g. road worthiness, fail safes.
Digital students were tasked to consider how the vehicle could process information from the sensors, how the route of a taxi journey could be booked and programmed, and how the vehicle could decide what action to take on the road. From a user end, they were also asked to conceptualise how customers could call the taxi, pay for the service and operate a taxi app, contactless payment, cash deposit, etc.
All teams needed to consider branding and a way that they could make their product appealing and memorable for consumers.
Among the fantastic designs that impressed the representatives were concepts for airless tyres, aerodynamic cab shells, vandalism-proof charging points, in-built solar-power capabilities, and accessible ticketing systems which could allow all users to easily book and plan routes at ticket stations regardless of whether they owned a smartphone.
Well done to all the students who took part in our project day; these activities go a long way to embellishing a CV as they really set us apart from all mainstream school in the area. Also a huge thank you to Lockheed representatives Laura, Immy, Jaimie and Chris for their time spent interacting with and mentoring our students today.