Elastic powered vehicle international competition

Content collaborators: Joshua Han, Remi Plewe, Theo Mandin-Lee

Gensler Innovation Award

Solidoworks | Catia V5 | KeyshotPhotoshop


Best-in-Show Award


Best Design Award

"How FAST can you go with 16' of rubber band?"




Learn a new subject quickly, build working prototypes and compete against the best.  

The Formula-E project is a three-part team challenge that culminates with a competition between several universities from China and ArtCenter, where teams can win prize money and/or design awards based on their performance on and off the track. A Pro category also participates with companies like Honda, Mattel & Axial Racing joining the competition.


The teams are tasked with designing and building a radio controlled vehicle powered by a 16 foot elastic band, which will compete in time trials on three different tracks: an incline uphill track, an 8-figure track, and straight 60 meter drag track. Besides racing for the fastest times around the tracks, the team's work also gets judged by a comprehensive 40 judge panel made up of design and innovation industry experts, that assess the teams' work and designs.

Sculpture Garden Flats 

Control, Vision and Finesse

Ashtray Alley Drag Race

Traction and Acceleration

Sinclair Hill Climb

Precision, Power and Timing

The competition also involves a brand development effort aimed at gaining support from the public and distinguish the team from other international competitors. Each team sets up a booth to display their project and showcase their designs and brand.

Finally, each team collaborates with a local charity of their choosing throughout the development of the vehicle, ideally a charity that aligns with the team's mantra. Half of all the winning teams' earnings will get donated to their partner charity, as a way of supporting and saying thank you to the many non-profit organizations in the community.


Promo reel

See our story through the FASTish instagram account at Fast.ish


Speed. Control. Acceleration.

All mean nothing without balance.

Our design was meant to reach the intersection between handling, power and chassis compliance. Because the requirements for the competition are so varied, the vehicle needed adapt on-the-fly to the multiple track demands. 

Maximizing rapid prototype technology.

Through CAD modelling, stress testing and continuous iteration, we were able to refine the chassis to withstand the high torsional forces of the elastic band, while keeping weight to a minimum. The chassis also takes into account mass distribution for a perfect center of gravity, clearances and adaptability. 

Leveraging the latest commercial technology in radio transmission micro camera, our team was able to integrate a simple but effective VR style first-person viewing system, that allowed faster training, better control and ultimately improved lap times. In addition, our team utilized quantitative data acquisition to validate new designs and improvements.

Innovation through technology.

Dyno testing

F-E Analysis


Community Outreach

SideStreet Projects

Side Street's Mobile Youth Education program teaches tool based design and fabrication aboard mobile fabrication studios housed in buses and trailers. The program teaches tool based design and fabrication, creative problem solving and safe tools utilization, while servicing multiple under-served locations across the city.

We decided to work with SideStreet Projects, because like us, these children enjoy the challenge of design and crafting of their own things. We believe that it is important to encourage, guide and instill the passion for design early in a child's development.

We are Makers.

We created a short video showcasing our collaboration with SideStreet to display at our booth during the final competition, and to share it with our student community to promote awareness about non-profit organizations.

Promo Reel

Our team set out to create a brand image that would capture and communicate what our team was all about: process driven, bold, simple, confident but lighthearted and jokers. This was important so that we could could engage and communicate with audiences, gain support and promote awareness about our project.


Team Branding

We thought that our team name and logo design should capture our two main characteristics as a team: Bold and cheeky,confident about our abilities and pushing ourselves, but with a lighthearted attitude, not taking ourselves too seriously.

Hence the -ish after the FAST. We don't need to go fast, just fast-ish.

The final race consists of a qualifying round, where we compete against ArtCenter teams, and a final round, where qualifying teams compete against qualifying teams from Chinese Universities. Each team gets 3 opportunities at each track during qualifying rounds, and 2 opportunities during final rounds. The best time is kept. 


Race Day | Competition




Sculpture Garden Flats 

Control, Vision and Finesse

Team Sky Net

Pasadena City College

19.05 sec (2017) (World Record)

Team FASTish

19.18 sec (2nd Place)

Ashtray Alley Drag Race

Traction and Acceleration

Team Ma-Ying

Inner Mongolia University of Technology

04.03 sec (2017) (US Record)

Team FASTish

4.25 sec 

Sinclair Hill Climb

Precision, Power and Timing

Team Ma-Ying

Inner Mongolia University of Technology

09.30 sec (2017) (World Record)

Team FASTish

9.8 sec (2nd Place - World Record before Ma-Ying)


Design, Build, Test, Fail.


A designer should strive to try many different ideas and quickly identify high and low potential ideas, then iterating fast on ideas with high potential to arrive at a strong solution.Our team mantra was do this cycle of failure and learning as fast as possible, leveraging the latest technologies available to us and utilizing empirical data to make better evidence-based decisions, to choose and improve out concept ideas. 


Features & Tools.

In addition to our fast iteration process and divergent concept approach, we utilized tools that could help us learn faster, better and more precisely. Our team developed unique tools that would help us build more accurate and high consistency prototype parts such as: rigs for custom wheel construction, wheel balancing methods, drill shields, custom dynamometer, video review analytics, quick assembly rigs and spare part interchangeability.


Our dyno was custom built to analyse the performance of different rubber band configurations, wheel sizes and gear ratios. Connected to our computer and using a simple earphone & magnet makeshift "sensor", we were able to analyse empirically the effects of design changes on power, acceleration and top end speed on our vehicle.

Finite Element Analysis

We leveraged the power of FEA software (Catia V5), to better understand how stress was acting on our chassis design, so that we could optimize its structure to reduce weight and improve rigidity. The last thing we wanted was to over-design a chassis in a very weight sensitive competition, especially with the extra features we added on.

Video Analysis and Training

Keeping our low budget in mind, we took advantage of the cheapest and latest video capturing tools available to us to accelerate our understanding and improve our designs faster and with measurable evidence. These tools, like the FPV camera, also helped our team review, replay and share our learning with team members ensuring 

more productive discussions and problem solving.

FPV was vital to our success, and won us the Gensler Innovation Award.