The IET Global Challenge 2017 involved a brief, again set by RedR UK, to design a new on board device that could guage the load weight of a vehicle.
We first researched the existing solutions on the market, to see which physical principles were typically applied to measure vehicle cargo in existing commercial products. We then considered the advantages and disadvantages of each approach in the context of the brief, and concluded that none of the existing approaches were appropriate. We generated a few more concepts, and after some consideration settled on a vibration-based approach.
The brief covered the key requirements, such as cost, durability, and adaptability for different vehicles. In addition to this, we also felt that our solution needed to be easy to install and repair using minimal tools and expertise, ideally without any contact with the manufacturer. Furthermore, one of the key disadvantages of many existing commercial solutions was that they often needed to be recalibrated by the manufacturer at regular intervals; we were keen to avoid this, as it would be impractical in a humanitarian aid context.
Our concept takes a unique approach to the problem, by analysing the vibrational response of the car to a known input force; this is not a principle currently employed by any commercially available solutions.