Have you ever dreamt of playing your favourite video game in the real world? GKart, a company birthed at Centech of Ecole de technologie supérieure (ETS), will soon be offering a real-life race video game.
The modules, developed by GKart allow you to lock onto the adversary and slow him down as Mario would do in Mario Kart or catch up to him and pursue him as if you were in Top Gun. You can use your “turbo boost” to accelerate and pass your adversaries as in Need For Speed or put the pedal to the metal for extra acceleration as in Crash Team Racing. These, and many other options, are available in GKart, and provide a new and exciting go-karting experience.
GKart Modules and Embedded Processing Power
The GKart concept is patent pending. By means of an embedded processor in rented go-karts, drivers can directly check their speeds, best times, acceleration and control. Through a wireless network, designed by the company, go-karts can communicate with one another to directly determine their positions and best lap times.
Adversaries can also consult race-data through the web and, afterwards, through a mobile GKart application. “Who slowed me down in the second turn?” ”How much acceleration did I get?” “What did my speed profile look like?” “Have I improved?” “Who is the best driver?
The entire profile is available on the web and accessible through a cellular terminal which was designed by GKart from start to finish. Throughout the race, and afterwards, embedded processors, mounted in rented go-karts, communicate with the terminal through a wireless communication protocol also owned by GKart. Then, the terminal creates a bridge to the 3G cellular network and sends all the profiles to GKart servers through the internet.
After more than four different prototypes incorporating a variety of hardware and software innovations, GKart finally developed an affordable product suitable for the rental go-kart industry. Each module has been designed to minimize the costs and maximize quality and robustness. The various electronic circuits and communications/signal-processing algorithms are a result of more than four years of development and the product can be adapted to all kinds of electric and gas-powered go-karts. The modules, housed in five different cases, are completely proprietary, thus GKart can provide very affordable equipment to go-karting operators
The plastic cases offered on the market did not meet GKart’s esthetic and functional goals. After a quick review of the existing technological options, plastic injection-molding was quickly ruled out. The go-karting market is relatively small and the production levels would not reach the required numbers to make this approach economically-viable. In addition, other materials were discarded due to their cost. The team then set their sights on 3D printing, a technology whose popularity has been quickly rising in both industrial and private use.
Prototypes were then created but the esthetics and durability issues persisted. After refining the printing methods, mainly optimization of various parameters such as print speed, extrusion temperature and the print-bed materials, these problems were finally sorted out. The team made a breakthrough in the printing of large ABS-based modules while eliminating deformations. In addition, GKart developed post-processing methods to eliminate esthetics issues inherent in 3D printing. In fact, they used a chemical vapor bath to uniformly melt the surface of the plastic and leave a smooth, scratch-free finish. This surface is then ready to be painted and the final product is as beautiful and solid as any injection-molded part. Using this process, the company can produce its modules very quickly at a very modest price
By using versatile technology, they can quickly adapt to the particular needs of the rental go-kart industry where clients uses different go-kart designs and standardization is very difficult. With 3D printing, the company is not limited by any particular design and can adapt to any go-kart configuration. GKart has already created modules for the most popular go-karts on the market, but can easily adapt to other designs. If, for example, a particular model requires a special fixture, they can simply design one, print it, and then, if it passes their quality tests, print off as many as they need.
GKart is very ambitious and is ready to revolutionize the go-karting world! Those living in the greater Montreal area will be able to obtain the product in January, 2016. Deployment will continue throughout the summer of 2016 for Quebec race-tracks, then, beginning in 2017, the company is going to target the larger North American and European markets. Discussions with potential partners have already begun and these entrepreneurs are getting ready to make this experience available to the whole world!
Pierre-Luc Lefebvre is an Electrical Engineer and holds a Masters in Electrical Engineering from ÉTS. His specialty is the design and certification of state-of-the-art products. He is a GKart co-founder.
Program : Electrical Engineering