Results of the ASC 2022 Road Race

Wrapping up the American Solar Challenge, the chart above shows the final official distances. The chart places optional “loops” driven at the end of each stage, even mid-stage loops. At the bottom of each bar is the final placing, with a star marking MOV (Cruiser) cars. The notation “(Tr)” identifies cars that trailered or were deemed to have trailered.

Below is a logarithmic visualisation of the MOV (Cruiser) scoring. The final score (last bar in each group) is the product (visually, the sum, since the chart uses logarithms) of seven factors:

  • The distance driven d (in miles)
  • The distance driven with penalties d’ (in miles)
  • The average number of people p in the car
  • The reciprocal of the total external energy usage E (in kWh)
  • The practicality score P (out of 100)
  • The speed derating T (1/70.86 = 0.014 for AppState)
  • In grey, the reciprocal h of 171,780 (the longest distance driven, times 100)

This is equivalent to the way that the scores are broken down officially (since C = d’/1717.8 and D = d×p).

The final score for AppState is 1/4.2 = 0.24, as in the official results. Esteban (Poly Montreal) achieved the highest score through low total external energy usage, but was demoted to third place after missing a turnoff early in the race, which prompted this retrospective modification to regulation 12.11.C:

“Any team leaving the tour route must rejoin the route at the same intersection where they left the route or they will be considered to have trailered from their last completed route step before going off route. Their Load On Trailer Time will be the time that they went off route.”

PrISUm (Iowa State University) was forced to withdraw early on due to electrical issues, so scores 4th in the MOV (Cruiser) class.


Challenges in the ASC 2022 Road Race

True to the name, there have been some challenges in the American Solar Challenge now taking place. On the first stage, Esteban (Poly Montreal) missed a turnoff, prompting this modification to regulation 12.11.C:

“Any team leaving the tour route must rejoin the route at the same intersection where they left the route or they will be considered to have trailered from their last completed route step before going off route. Their Load On Trailer Time will be the time that they went off route.”

PrISUm (Iowa State University) was forced to withdraw early on due to electrical issues

“Unfortunately things did no go as planned for PrISUm. Due to safety concerns for both the car and our team, we did not want to drive the car any farther. It is unfortunate that there was an electrical issue, which is hard to quickly and safely fix on race. We are very proud of our team performance at FSGP, compared to the last couple of years. Thank you to everyone for all of your support and following us throughout our journey.”

Canadian team Éclipse (ÉTS) had a major crisis on stage 2:

“On our 2nd loop in the city of Casper, our topshell detached from the vehicle; no injuries. The damage from this incident to the vehicle is not minor, but we worked very hard to get it back on the road! Thank you to all who helped!

Solar panels replaced, topshell corner redone in carbon fiber wet layup, tightened security attachments, lights picked up, stronger canopy, MPPTs repaired and even two flat tires all under 24h our convoy made it to time at stagepoint #2 in Lander, Wyoming just minutes from closing! The vehicle is in shape, today we are driving to Montpellier, Idaho.”

Illini (University of Illinois) had a narrow miss on the same stage:

“Today on our way to Lander, the team and Brizo faced a very near collision. As the convoy was waiting to turn left along the route, a semi lost control and tried to swerve around a pickup in front. The semi crashed a few feet from Brizo and the pickup truck landed mere inches from our chase car. Thankfully the entire team and Brizo were unharmed. However due to lost time, we had to trailer part of the second stage. Tonight we arrived in Lander and are ready for the rest of the American Solar Challenge.”

Official times for the first two stages are summarised in the chart below. The chart places optional “loops” driven at the end of each stage, even mid-stage loops. MIT leads the SOV/Challenger class, followed by Principia and Kentucky. The MOV/Cruiser scoring system is more complex, and only distances are shown here. However, Minnesota does appear to be ahead.

Latest news had most solar cars arriving at the Montpelier, Idaho checkpoint (including AppState and, I believe, Berkeley):

Follow the remainder of the race with the ASC car tracker (or just the dashboard). You can also check out the official ASC social media at        (click on the icons).


ASC 2022 Road Race Team Photo

Above is the official American Solar Challenge team photo (slightly cropped). From left to right, the teams are:

Stars (★) mark cars in the MOV (Cruiser) class.

Follow the race with the ASC car tracker (or just the dashboard). You can also check out the official ASC social media at        (click on the icons).


ASC 2021: road race, final day

Today sees the end of the American Solar Challenge. Above (click to zoom) are the final SOV standings, in New Mexico flag colours. MIT won, followed by Kentucky and Principia (Principia would have come second, were it not for some fairly stiff penalties given during scrutineering for minor regulation non-compliance).

Teams marked with a dot were forced to trailer at some point, and hence score lower. The optional “loops” driven are marked at the end of each stage (even the La Junta loop, which occurred in the middle of Stage 2). In the MOV class (not shown), Minnesota ran into problems, making App State the winners – their mountain-built car having taken all the passes in its stride.

Note: this chart reflect minor recent updates to the official Stage 2 numbers. The chart posted yesterday is therefore very slightly out of date.

The last day of the race was a short drive from Las Vegas, NM to Santa Fe, NM and back, across the Glorieta Pass through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains (easier than the Raton Pass). Above (click to zoom) is a day in the life of Illini according to the GPS tracker. Elevation data is from the tracker, so the elevation profile is slightly incorrect where the tracker cut out.

The chart above (click to zoom) shows MOV practicality scores. Black stars indicate final ASC placing (App State won the class). PrISUm did not qualify for the road race, but came third at FSGP.

Below (click to zoom) are some memories of the route (photos are from the ASC and the teams).


ASC 2021: road race, Day 4

Today sees the end of Day 4 and Stage 2 of the American Solar Challenge. Above (click to zoom) are the SOV standings at the end of Day 4, in Colorado flag colours. MIT leads, followed by Principia and Kentucky. Teams in red were forced to trailer at some point, and hence score lower. The optional “loops” driven are marked at the end of each stage (even the La Junta loop, which occurred in the middle of Stage 2). In the MOV class (not shown), Minnesota ran into problems, leaving App State in the lead. There is one short day of racing still to go.

Above (click to zoom) is the Gato del Sol VI of Kentucky visiting Fort Union National Monument. Marion Sloan Russell, who travelled the Santa Fe Trail multiple times, was an “army wife” there for some time. In her memoir, Land of Enchantment, she writes about revisiting the site:

At Fort Union I found crumbling walls and tottering chimneys. Here and there a tottering adobe wall where once a mighty howitzer had stood. Great rooms stood roofless, their whitewashed walls open to the sky. Wild gourd vines grew inside the officers’ quarters. Rabbits scurried before my questing feet. The little guard house alone stood intact, mute witness of the punishment inflicted there. The Stars and Stripes was gone. Among a heap of rubble I found the ruins of the little chapel where I had stood—a demure, little bride in a velvet cape—and heard a preacher say, ‘That which God hath joined together let no man put asunder.’


ASC 2021: road race, day 1

Day 1 of the American Solar Challenge road race has ended. The first hour saw Illini (team 22) take the lead (see the map). MIT (team 4) had started last, because of some hiccup at the starting line, but had gained the lead by Council Grove, KS.

The chart below shows arrival times into Council Grove and GPS tracks for three of the teams (the other six GPS trackers failed). MIT (team 4) has done two of the optional “loops” beyond the stage stop in McPherson, KS (but they ran past official closing time, so the second one didn’t count). Illini (team 22) did one loop, as did Calsol (team 6), while Principia (team 32) did two loops that counted, but with a substantial penalty (due to a minor regulation compliance issue), so that MIT is still in the lead by a whisker. None of the teams trailered.

At 9:12, Kentucky (team 3) briefly stopped in a church carpark, with a longer stop around noon. They still made it to McPherson in good time, but apparently chose not to do a loop. Cruiser (MOV) scoring is a bit of a mess, so I won’t discuss it till the end of the race. See also the team social media linked from my illustrated teams list, or the official ASC social media at        (click on the icons).

And, because the ASC is following the Santa Fe Trail this year, here is a reminder of what it looked like 200 years ago (from a mural by Edward Holslag):


ASC 2021: track race (FSGP) results

We have now come to the end of the FSGP – the track-race portion of the American Solar Challenge. Final lap counts (from here) are shown in the chart below. The chart is in the colours of the Kansas flag, with green bars representing single-occupant vehicles (SOV). White stars mark the teams that have qualified for the coming road race (ad astra per aspera). See also my illustrated list of teams.

To follow the multi-occupant vehicles (MOV), it is really only necessary to look at the brown bars in the chart above. However, the chart below (click to zoom) visualises the actual MOV scores on a logarithmic axis, with six coloured bars being components of the score, and the seventh coloured bar S being the product (i.e. sum of the logarithms) of those components. The six components are:

  • d, the total miles driven
  • d, the total miles driven with penalties
  • p, the average number of persons in the car (and so the Total Person-Mile Distance in the regulations is D = d × p)
  • E, the Total External Energy usage (as in the regulations)
  • T, the Target Speed Derate, which penalises cars slower than 30 mph (as in the regulations)
  • h, a grey bar (the same for every team) showing the highest driving distance of any MOV entry (and so the Completion Factor in the regulations is C = d′ / h)

This version of the scoring formula, S = d × d′ × p × (1/E) × T × (1/h) is equivalent to the formula S = (D / E) × C × T in the regulations, but makes it clear that the speed of the car essentially appears three times (as d, d′, and T), and hence dominates all the other factors.

The chart below shows how closely the MOV scores reflect the lap counts:


ASC 2021: Saturday, July 31

We have now had two days of the FSGP – the track-race portion of the American Solar Challenge. Lap counts so far are shown in the chart below. The chart is in the colours of the Kansas flag, with green bars representing single-occupant vehicles (SOV). Stars mark the five teams that have already qualified for the coming road race (see also my illustrated list of teams). The Gato del Sol VI from Kentucky is in the lead, having done even better than I expected.

To follow the multi-occupant vehicles (MOV), it is only necessary to look at the brown bars in the chart above. Technically, the FSGP regulations give the score for MOV cars as S = (D / E) × C × T, where S is the total score, D is the Total Person-Mile Distance, E is the Total External Energy usage of the solar car, C is the Completion Factor, and T is the Target Speed Derate.

The chart above (click to zoom) visualises these MOV scores on a logarithmic axis, with six coloured bars being components of the score, and the seventh coloured bar S being the product (and therefore the sum of the logarithms) of those components. The six components are:

  • d, the total miles driven
  • d, the total miles driven with penalties
  • p, the average number of persons in the car (and so D = d × p)
  • E, the total external energy usage (as in the regulations)
  • T, the target speed derate, which penalises cars slower than 30 mph (as in the regulations)
  • h, a grey bar (the same for every team) showing the highest driving distance of any MOV entry (and so C = d′ / h)

This version of the formula, S = d × d′ × p × (1/E) × T × (1/h), makes it clear that the speed of the car appears three times, and hence dominates all the other factors. Consequently, we really only need to count laps. Another consequence is that teams in the MOV (Cruiser) class would, in many cases, actually be better off not carrying passengers.


ASC 2021: Friday morning, July 30

Well, in Topeka, Kansas it is the morning of the FSGP – the track-race portion of the American Solar Challenge. Only 4 out of 12 cars have qualified so far – the veteran Gato del Sol VI from Kentucky; the brand-new Brizo from Illini (the University of Illinois team); the brand-new Cruiser Freya from the University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project; and the brand-new Nimbus from MIT. So what does that mean?


Brizo from the University of Illinois (credit)

Well, I’m guessing that it means that two of these cars will win the track race in their respective classes. The road race, which is the main event, is still wide open, though. A bunch of other cars will make it through scrutineering today, put in some solid laps on Saturday and Sunday, and qualify for the road race. Some of those will also be strong contenders. I will keep my teams list (in the previous post) up-to-date on the status of those cars.

However, I anticipate some cars not passing scrutineering, while others hit the track but don’t qualify for the road race. That much is normal at ASC.

Update: four more teams did indeed pass scrutineering during the course of the day – Illinois State, Berkeley (CalSol), Georgia Tech, and NC State. As expected, Brizo from the University of Illinois and Freya from the University of Minnesota are leading the lap counts.