My Personal WSC Gem Awards Part 2

The reliability gem goes to team 11 (Bochum University of Applied Sciences). Their thyssenkrupp SunRiser has clocked up over 16,000 km, I understand. It drove the entire 3022 km of the World Solar Challenge in 2015, and again this year. It came 3rd at iESC 16, 2nd in the iESC 18 Cruiser class, 7th at Albi Eco 18 (with 100 laps), and 2nd at Albi Eco 19 (with 119 laps). And it’s still the sexiest Cruiser-class car around.

The disco lights gem goes to team 40 (Eindhoven). Eindhoven also scored highest on Cruiser-class efficiency, carrying an average of 2.63 people for 71.24 kWh of external energy. The car also has an understated elegance. And the disco lights serve a serious purpose: they show battery charge, and the ability of Stella Era to act as a mobile charging station.

And a special best use of tape gem goes to team 88 (Kogakuin), with team 70 (Sonnenwagen Aachen) a close second.


My Personal WSC Gem Awards Part 1

The faster than lightning gem goes to team 8 (Agoria, formerly Punch). They built a fantastic car, and drove it at the maximum safe speed, giving them a well-deserved win. Congratulations!

The best new team gem goes to team 6 (Top Dutch). They did everything well: fund-raising, media, construction (the build quality of the car is superb), logistics, testing, and racing. A well-deserved fourth place! Other new teams would be well-advised to emulate the approach taken by this team.

The most beautiful car gem goes to team 21 (Twente) for their tiny little car. It took a lot of clever engineering to make a car that small! The aero drag on the car is, I understand, around the same force as the weight of a large (1.5 l) bottle of water. Sadly, a wind gust overturned the car during the race, but here again the car perfectly fulfilled its task of keeping the driver safe. A wonderful car!

The consistency gem goes to team 92 (ETS Quebec / Éclipse). While cars elsewhere were crashing and catching fire, they continued to drive at a very consistent speed (lowest standard deviation of the ten leg speeds – see the pink line in the graph). They finished as best Canadian team, second North American team, and ninth in the world. Well done!


ASC 39: Road Race Last Day

Well, the American Solar Challenge is over. The “Faster than Lightning Gem” goes to Western Sydney University (team 15), who won by 16 minutes after a very hard-fought contest with defending champions Michigan. Western Sydney have shown themselves (again) to be one of the best teams in the world. Congratulations!

The “Multi-Occupant Vehicle Gem” goes to Onda Solare from the University of Bologna (team 559), who were the only Cruiser (MOV) to complete the entire course. They did this with 3 passengers (except for the “big climb”), zero external recharging, and zero penalties. Felicitazioni!

Here are the Cruiser (MOV) practicality scores.

Here is my final race chart, with penalty minutes added in on the right. Cars with partial distance credit are shown at the top left:

And my final average speed chart, in the colours of an Idaho sunset:


ASC 38: Road Race Day 8


Start, drive, cross the line, recharge (picture credits: 1, 2, 3, 4)

Day 8 of the American Solar Challenge was another sunny day. The road to Burns included several steep hills, climbing out of the Snake River Plain, and teams that did not negotiate them yesterday had to do so today. Appalachian State were the first Cruiser to arrive in Burns. Onda Solare are the only untrailered Cruiser, however (and still with 4 people and no external recharging). The chart below summarises the race so far (penalty minutes are added at the right of the chart).

I am awarding my “Cruiser Pioneer” gem to the University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project, who are America’s Cruiser (MOV) class pioneers. They were the only Cruiser at ASC 2016. They came 4th in the WSC 2013 Cruiser class, and 5th in the WSC 2015 Cruiser class. They won the FSGP MOV class this year by a convincing margin, and were clear leaders for the ASC road race until they ran into trouble 40 miles into stage 4 (with an electrical fault). Thank you, UMNSVP, for showing everybody else the way!


ASC 37: Road Race Day 7


ASC, Day 7 (picture credits: 1, 2, 3, 4)

Day 7 of the American Solar Challenge was full of drama. An incredible race between Western Sydney and Michigan saw average speeds to the checkpoint in Mountain Home of 90.8 km/h (56.4 mph). In the Cruiser class, there was a tragic breakdown by Minnesota, which I think will leave Onda Solare the winners by default.

I am, however, giving my “Most Desirable Car Gem” award to PrISUm. Their car did not qualify for the road race, but I still think that their “solar SUV” is a fantastic concept.

And here are the night-time car positions (unreliable in the case of Michigan). I have overlaid them on my elevation map to emphasise the 850 metre downhill run into Mountain Home, and then the climb back up into Burns.


ASC 36: Road Race Day 6 wrap

The American Solar Challenge have released official stage 3 timings, summarised in the chart above (click to zoom). Michigan and Western Sydney are only minutes apart. ETS Quebec / Eclipse is in third, and gaining, thanks partly to the brilliant tactic of finishing Day 3 just a few metres from the Stage 2 finish line in Lander. Given the battery impound rules, this gave them substantial additional solar recharging.

Although the American Solar Challenge is far from over, I’m already giving my “Most Improved Team Gem” award to ETS Quebec / Eclipse (team 101, formerly 92). ETS came 18th at WSC 2013 (completing only 1530 km), and 8th at ASC 2016 (after Michigan, Dunwoody/SER, Toronto, Missouri S&T, Principia, AppState, and PrISUm). With their car Éclipse X, however, I think they have reached the world top 12 level, along with teams like Toronto and Stanford. I really hope to see them at WSC again soon! And, it must be said, their compatriots in team 55 (Poly Montreal / Esteban) are not far behind them.

In the Cruiser (MOV) class, the “cactus” diagram above tells the story so far. For each car, the first coloured bar shows the number of person-kilometres (distance driven times the average number of people in the car). Penalties have reduced this person-kilometre amount, so my calculation of the average number of people in the car is a little off. The second coloured bar shows the external energy input, which is the number of charges (including the pre-race charge) multiplied by the battery capacity. This bar points downward, because large values are bad. The third coloured bar, which is the final score, is the first bar divided by the second (all bars are scaled so that the highest value is 100%). Minnesota and Onda Solare have been running on the same basis as the Challenger (SOV) cars – no external recharging during the race. This is an incredible achievement!

However, the regulations specify that Cruisers should arrive in less than 53 hours (dashed green line in the top chart), with time penalties if they do not, and with cars deemed to have trailered after 62 hours (dashed pink line). On performance to date, I estimate that Minnesota will arrive in 59.0 hours, and Onda in 59.7, which means that Minnesota’s score will be multiplied by 30%, and Onda’s by 23%. Onda can still win if they recharge from the grid and finish the race at 70 km/h or so. Eindhoven’s Stella Vie could do that, but I’m not sure that the Italian car can. They may have left recharging too late, having allowed Minnesota to dictate what kind of race was going to be run.


Western Sydney wins Stage 3, Michigan recharges (picture credits: 1, 2)


ASC 35: Road Race Day 6 (morning)


Wyoming to Idaho, Day 5 (picture credits: 1, 2)

Thursday 19 July (Idaho time) dawned with clear skies, promising a good day to finish Stage 3 of the American Solar Challenge.

For the Cruiser (MOV) class, the “cactus” diagram below tells the story for Stages 1 and 2. For each car, the first coloured bar shows the number of person-kilometres (distance driven times the average number of people in the car). The second coloured bar shows the external energy input, which is the number of charges (including the pre-race charge) multiplied by the battery capacity. This bar points downward, because large values are bad. The third coloured bar, which is the final score, is the first bar divided by the second (all bars are scaled so that the highest value is 100%). The numbers are very similar to those for Stage 1 alone. Update: the numbers on the web site have changed, so this chart has been recalculated to match.

Although the American Solar Challenge is far from over, I’m getting a head start on my personal Gem Awards for the race. The “Media Excellence Gem” goes to App State for their regular Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and well-written blog posts.

And now that the tracker is working (except for the teams marked in grey), we can see that the cars are off and running. The first of them should reach stage end wihin minutes: