Farewell to the World Solar Challenge

This ends my World Solar Challenge 2019 coverage. I will begin covering the American Solar Challenge in a few months. Meanwhile, regular science content resumes.

Summary of WSC additional awards:

  • CSIRO technical innovation award: Kogakuin, for their hydropneumatic suspension.
  • Safety award: Sonnenwagen Aachen, who crashed.
  • Spirit of the Event award: Sonnenwagen Aachen, for not giving up.
  • Promotional award: Solar Team Twente, for their excellent media.
  • Excellence in engineering award: Top Dutch, for their wonderful car.

World Solar Challenge: statistics and recent news

Top left: Onda Solare revealed their modified Cruiser Emilia 4 LT on 31 July (credit); Top right: Western Sydney revealed their new monohull Challenger Unlimited 3.0 on 7 August (photo: Anthony Dekker); Bottom left: STC revealed their unusual passenger-behind-driver Cruiser on 8 August (credit); Bottom right: Durham revealed their asymmetric Challenger Ortus on 12 August (credit)

We have had a few new solar car reveals recently (see above – click to zoom). The pie chart below shows current statistics (excluding #67 Golden State and #86 Dyuti, which do not seem to be active teams). Among the Challengers, the designs for #4 Antakari, #10 Tokai, and #18 EcoPhoton are still unknown.

Monohulls remain a minority among the Challengers (though a minority that has doubled in size since 2017). I am using the term “outrigger” for cars with monohull bodies but wheels sticking well out to the sides (the two new Swedish teams, #23 HUST and #51 Chalmers). There are also two quite different wide symmetric cars (#22 MDH and #63 Alfaisal). Among the Cruisers, 4-seaters remain a minority, in spite of the substantial points benefit for carrying multiple passengers. As always, see my regularly updated illustrated teams list for details.

American Solar Challenge 2018: The run to Burns

I recently got my hands on the GPS tracker data for the American Solar Challenge last July. Above (for the 6 Challengers completing the stage) and below (for the Cruisers) are distance/speed charts for the run from Craters of the Moon to Burns, which seems the stage of the route with the best data (at this time of year I haven’t the time for a more detailed analysis). Click on the charts to zoom. Small coloured circles show end-of-day stops.

Stage times were 15:Western Sydney 8:05:16, 101:ETS Quebec 8:20:13, 2:Michigan 8:25:08, 55:Poly Montréal 8:42:52, 4:MIT 9:07:58, and 6:CalSol 9:30:12 for Challengers, and 828:App State 10:22:37, 559:Bologna 12:13:57, and 24:Waterloo 15:29:12 for Cruisers (note that Bologna was running fully loaded on solar power only, while the other Cruisers recharged from the grid).

The data has been processed by IOSiX. I’m not sure what that involved, but I’ve taken the data as gospel, eliminating any datapoints out of hours, off the route, or with PDOP more than 10. Notice that there are a few tracker “black spots,” and that trackers in some cars work better than in others. The small elevation charts are taken from the GPS tracker data, so they will not be reliable in the “black spots” (in particular, the big hill before Burns has been truncated – compare my timing chart).

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 30: A Milestone

One of my eagle-eyed readers has pointed out an interesting milestone – Italian team Onda Solare has competed in solar car races on all six continents not covered in ice. I believe that they are the first team to do so.

  • North America: this event, the 2018 American Solar Challenge
  • South America: the Carrera Solar Atacama (coming 2nd in the Evolución class in 2016)
  • Europe: the European Solar Challenge (coming 6th in 2016) and the Albi Eco Race (winning in 2017)
  • Africa: the Moroccan Solar Race Challenge (wnning in 2016)
  • Asia: the Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge (coming 10th in 2015)
  • Australia: the World Solar Challenge (coming 10th in 2013)

Well done, Onda Solare!

ASC 29: Road Race Day 2 Wrap

picture credits: 1, 2

This post has been updated TWICE.

Sunday 15 July (Nebraska time) in the American Solar Challenge road race saw clouds and rain, and several cars were forced to trailer. In the Challenger (SOV) class, Western Sydney crossed the finish line just before Michigan (above). Below (in the colours of an Oregon Trail campfire) are the speeds for Stage 1, based on official timings. Western Sydney were declared winners of this first stage. The two cars from Montreal are also neck-and-neck, with Eclipse (101) just ahead of Esteban (55) after penalties.

In the Cruiser (MOV) class, Minnesota and Onda Solare are the two cars left standing. Both of these cars are running about 2 hours behind the 53.5 km/h required speed, and so both are attracting slowness penalties (as per revised regulation 13.3.A). Both cars seem to have run fully loaded (2 people for Minnesota, 4 for Onda), so scoring for the Cruisers reflects battery size and the number of recharges they have done from the grid (currently zero for both, apparently). However, on a pure seats-to-kWh ratio, Minnesota (2 / 6.75) outperforms Onda (4 / 16.8), and this is why Minnesota were declared Cruiser winners of this first stage.

picture credits: 1, 2

Seven days of racing to go! … With only 12 cars, unfortunately, since Western Michigan and SIUE were unable to meet their provisional qualification requirements. However, Illini, Georgia Tech, Waterloo, and AppState are still in the race, though trailered, with partial distance credit.