Agile team pushing the boundaries and developed ultra energy-efficient vehicle using Yodiz

Building a highly efficient electric vehicle from scratch involves plenty of internal and external risks. Lets find out how "Team Elena" designed and built the electric car using agile methodologies and Yodiz.


Yodiz would like to thank Ines Halbritter, "Team Elena's" project manager for taking the time to talk with us.

Hey Ines, tell us more about the electric car project & Team Elena?

Our project is to design, build and drive an energy-efficient car for Shell ECO-Marathon 2015. We are a team of eight people from University of Applied Sciences Vorarlberg, Austria.

Team Elena is a very effective and self-organized small team, we had a “basic” organizational structure – I took over the Project Leader position and the group was divided into electric and mechanic team according to previous knowledge and experience

It’s a unique once-in-a-lifetime experience. This competition brings together around 200 teams and 3,000 students from across Europe to battle for ultra energy efficiency on the road.

Marking the most challenging engineering competitions in Rotterdam. 230 teams hit the street to push the boundaries of energy efficiency.

What is Shell Eco Marathon 2015

Shell Eco-marathon is one of the world’s most challenging student innovation competitions that takes place annually in Europe, America and Asia. We are competing for electric mobility category, where vehicle can be powered by hydrogen fuel cells or lithium-based batteries. Each team has to design, produce and race energy efficient cars.

Success is measured on who can drive the furthest on the equivalent of 1 kWh or 1 litre of fuel.

How challenging was this project

Building a highly efficient electric vehicle from scratch involves plenty of internal and external risks. Many ideas were thought, presented, evaluated, rejected and worked-on. Time was limited and scope and quality cannot be compromised.

As we are the first group of students at the university of applied sciences Vorarlberg participating in the Shell Eco-marathon, we could not build on any previous knowledge. In combination with the limited time frame, the fact that we are all working part or full time and challenging courses it was hard to find spare time to work on our Elena.

Why agile was a perfect fit for energy efficient electric car project & how agile methodology worked out?

We endeavor the journey of minimizing the losses and achieving maximum efficiency in fuel economy, which made this project a perfect candidate to be managed by Agile methodology.

The core of the project coincides very well with the agile methodology, as both have element of reducing waste and maximizing the efficiency.

I have few years experience of working in agile project. In my current career job we use state-of-the-art agile practices, where I also work as a Scrum Master.

Other team members came from different background and organizations, where they didn’t use agile.Adopting agile at team level wasn’t that easy, as it required some convincing to other team member, so I had to put some effort about agile advantages.

One advantage of using agile is that it makes the team very self organized. Team decide by itself what to do, how to do and when to do. Academic supervisors have just consultations help without directly leading the project.

Agile provides quite flexible and adaptive approach to deal with uncertainty and on the same time, provide disciplined approach to deal with critical time limitation. We have project /sprint meeting once a week only. Managing time is crucial, since not being ready by the time of the race is not an option for us.

Can you explain how Yodiz helped in managing the project and achieving maximum efficiency?

Managing such a project has its own set of challenges. We were looking for a tool, which provide full visibility at task level of the whole project team.Also time management is very important, as it’s a very time critical project.So we needed a tool that can handle time reporting and time sheet really well.

Yodiz is a complete Agile platform which is packed with all the needed features and tools to perform all the Agile task needed to be done by Team Elena.

Yodiz is a complete Agile platform which is packed with all the needed features and tools to perform all the Agile task needed to be done by Team Elena. It covers all the aspects like project planning, project delivery, backlog management, issue tracking, time management, task management, timesheet management or dashboard analysis. The blend of features offered by Yodiz made it a perfect choice for team Elena.

As Ines mentioned following are the few of many features that helped them make Yodiz their final choice.

Explain how you mange electric car project in Agile

So far we heard about how people organize their wedding or re-construct their house using agile, but this is very inspiring and unique story. Managing this project is quite different then managing any other project, but in principle the concept is same as managing any other agile project. Our deliverables includes HW, SW, choice of material, Electrical and Mechanical component design, etc.

Which makes this project to have a very narrow margin of error.

So there is a high level of risk and zero tolerance of error. We had a detail level of design steps, each feature has to pass through various design phases before it is approved for construction. Yodiz provide an easier and best way to manage the backlog, we define a user story in detail and then divide it in small tasks and assign it to different team members.

One practical example of designing a motor controller, there are several steps in designing, first defining the detail requirement, layouting the PCB, component selection, manufacturing and assembling as well as different programming steps.

Our sprint duration is two months, and this duration is linked with our internal milestone. Team meet on weekly basis to discuss the ongoing progress in sprint, update each other about the progress and problems.At end of each sprint we organize demo with our professors to show what we achieved during the sprint, then we had a short retrospective session that follows the sprint planning.

Team Elena has completed this project successfully and is going to compete the marathon that will take place from May 21-24, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. In 2015, Shell Eco-marathon Europe celebrates its 30th anniversary.

Team Elena recognized the value of Agile for their project and are really happy in using Yodiz for their highly detailed project.

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