Mechanical Engineering - Cooperative Education
Bachelor of Science
Date of Graduation
Our senior design project for the Honors College and the Department of Mechanical Engineering was to design a fluid powered vehicle. Our design was tested in an official capacity against other universities’ vehicles at the Fluid Powered Vehicle Challenge hosted and funded by the National Fluid Power Association (NFPA) and its industry partners. This competition had six different evaluations for our vehicle design; three race events, midway presentation, final presentation, and safety inspection. The three different race events were the sprint race, the efficiency race, and the endurance race. The sprint race was a 475 feet speed test, the efficiency race was a distance test using a pressurized accumulator to start from a stop, and the endurance race was a one-mile time test.
The fluid circuit used was derived from the previous teams’ vehicle outlines, and the basic frame used was a bicycle with adjustable stabilizer wheels attached at the rear. The final design revolved around two separate circuits that could run independently and/or simultaneously. First, the direct drive circuit connects rider input pedaling to a gear pump which powers a hydraulic motor attached to the rear wheel. This was intended to be the main source of power to propel the vehicle forward. Second, the accumulation circuit generates pressure from another hydraulic pump/motor attached to the opposite side of the moving rear wheel. The generated pressure is stored inside an accumulator and can then be released to either provide additional propulsion to the vehicle, or to start the vehicle from a stop.
The competition involved 15 university teams competing against each other with their original fluid powered vehicle designs. The results of our team’s vehicle in each race were used to determine the effectiveness of our vehicle design in comparison to other teams’. We finished the 475 feet sprint race with a time of 32.23 seconds, coming in seventh place. We achieved a score of 2.71 for the efficiency race by traveling 404 feet on stored energy, resulting in ninth place. We completed the one-mile endurance race with a time of ten minutes and fifty-seven seconds, placing sixth. Finally, by incorporating all of the race results and the scores from the presentations and safety inspection, our team placed sixth overall out of the 15 teams. From these results, our team reflected on the lessons learned during the design process and competition to develop suggestions for improvement for the next team’s vehicle design.
Graham, Madison; Ritchie, Wayne; Dicks, Emily; and Cupello, Ariana, "Fluid Power Vehicle Competition" (2019). Williams Honors College, Honors Research Projects. 908.