Sunday 15 July (Nebraska time) looks like being cloudy, which is not good for the American Solar Challenge road race. The map below (click to zoom) shows the latest known team positions. GPS trackers are proving unreliable, and the grey positions reflect approximate positions as at last night. Waterloo, Onda, AppState, and the teams pictured (ETS in Ellsworth, Esteban on the road, Illini near Halsey, and CalSol in Halsey) are all on the move, however. Western Sydney seems to be back in the lead.
This post has been updated.
Here are the approximate night-time positions of cars at the end of the first day of the 9-day American Solar Challenge road race (click to zoom). GPS trackers are proving unreliable in Nebraska, so this map is based on social media reports and gossip about locations. For example, Eclipse posted an Instagram story about end-of-day charging at Ellsworth, Nebraska (650 km by road from the start). Western Sydney seem to be in Alliance (700 km), but may have driven ahead slightly to find sleeping accommodation. Day 2 of the race will end at Gering (790.2 km).
And here, in the colours of an Oregon Trail sunset, are the speeds to the Grand Island checkpoint. The bullet car from Michigan is ahead, but only by minutes. Sadly, Western Michigan had problems with their car and failed to meet their provisional qualification speed requirements. Also, none of the Cruisers are keeping to the necessary average speed of 53.5 km/h. They will all need to speed up somehow. Georgia Tech have trailered, but are still in the event. SIUE are racing non-competitively.
Saturday 14 July (Omaha time) marked the start of the 9-day American Solar Challenge road race. The maps below (click to zoom) use extrapolation of GPS positions (based on the speeds included in the GPS feed) so that they are probably a bit more realistic than just looking at a snapshot of the live map. The photographs come from various teams.
Initially, there was fog, and a nail-biting contest between Michigan and Western Sydney for the lead. A few teams had problems at the start, and SIUE briefly strayed off the race route:
After two and a half hours, Michigan was in the lead, having driven 164 km. Georgia Tech was still doing repairs. Illini (shown in grey) seemed to have GPS problems, so their position was uncertain. In the Cruiser class, only Appstate was running at the necessary average speed of 33.3 mph or 53.5 km/h (but no doubt this will change):
Friday (Omaha time) was display day for the American Solar Challenge, as well as practicality judging for the Cruiser Class cars (Multi-Occupant Vehicles). Practicality will make up 20% of each Cruiser car’s final score.
CalSol and Minnesota setting up for display (picture credit)
Saturday 8:00 AM (Omaha time) the road race begins. Here is a reminder of the race route (as seen at night, this time):
Notice those mountains! Here is the elevation profile for the route (constructed using elevation data from team 42). The two highlighted sections have average slopes of 1 in 39, which will be a tough climb (click to zoom):
And this is what they look like. Here is Red Canyon Scenic Overlook, coming out of Lander:
Photo by Teddy Pollard (image credit)
Route map, coloured by elevation (from −110 to 4351 m). Departure dates from the stage stops (black dots) at Gering, Lander, etc. will be 16th, 18th, 20th, and finally 22nd for the short stage from Burns.
It’s time for me to begin my coverage of the American Solar Challenge (ASC) this coming July. Following qualification at Motorsport Park Hastings, Nebraska, this solar-car race will run from Omaha, Nebraska to Bend, Oregon. Scrutineering will start on Friday July 6th, qualification track racing on Tuesday the 10th, and the road race itself will run from Saturday the 14th to Sunday the 22nd. As the map above shows, much of the road race run through some pretty serious mountains (click to zoom).
This ASC poster shows the Cruisers in the first two columns (also available with white background).
Note: this poster has been updated – see here
Currently, 24 solar car teams from 6 countries are entered in the race, in two classes (Cruiser class and Challenger class). I am maintaining an annotated team status list for the race. See also the official ASC social media at (click on the symbols), and the poster above (click to zoom).
And here is one car – Argo from the University of Illinois:
On June 3, two of the top Cruiser-class solar cars held a Midwestern Solar Challenge, racing south from St Paul, MN to Ames, IA. The teams were:
- Original route
- Video just before start of race
- Oops! Discovering that Highway MN 3 is closed – switching to MN 55E, US 52S, and 47 (Northfield Blvd)
- Both cars finish at the same time
Here is my (totally informal) scoring of the race (see the chart below):
- Person-kilometres is the race distance times the average number of people carried (which I believe was 4 for PrISUm and 2 for UMNSVP). The first coloured bar shows this, scaled so that 100% is the highest value.
- Energy input is the number of charges (1, in this case) times battery size. The second coloured bar shows this, scaled so that 100% is the highest value (this bar points downward, because smaller is better).
- The third coloured bar shows the ratio of these numbers, scaled so that 80% is the highest ratio.
- We add on (in grey) the practicality scores (I’m estimating 9 for PrISUm and 7 for UMNSVP), scaled so that 20% is the highest practicality.
- This gives final scores of 100 for PrISUm and 82 for UMNSVP. Congratulations, PrISUm!
- But will PrISUm still have the advantage when it needs to carry passengers uphill?