# Solar racing car numbers

As in all races, solar racing cars are identified by number. Some solar car numbers are simply traditional, like the 8 for Agoria Solar Team from Belgium (above). Others have a specific meaning, as shown in the chart below.

Some numbers are lucky in some way, such as 21 = “Twente-One.” Some are coded references to solar technology, such as 55 = the year that Western Electric began to sell licenses for silicon PV technology. Alternatively, numbers indicate the team’s home base. This can be done by specifying a road, such as the the Interstate 35 or Strade Statali 9 = the Via Aemilia. More commonly, telephone country or area codes are used, such as 40 = Eindhoven, 46 = Sweden, 82 = South Korea, or 828 = western North Carolina. Not shown in the chart is 34 = the vehicle license plate prefix for Istanbul.

Mobile phone picture by Rafael Fernandez

# 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).

# American Solar Challenge Late March Update

It is not much more than three months until the American Solar Challenge. Scrutineering begins on July 10th, assuming that the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t interfere.

Kansas (785) have finished their battery pack, Illini (22) have cancelled their car-reveal event [no image], as have Esteban (55), Michigan (2) have withdrawn from the event entirely (citing coronavirus reasons), and UBC (26) have made fantastic progress on their Daybreak.

See also my updated illustrated list of teams. At present we have 33 teams registered, but some teams are obviously in trouble, and some cars are not going to get built before July. On the other hand, other teams are making good progress. Nevertheless, the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic lies over the whole event.

# American Solar Challenge March Update

It is just over four months until the American Solar Challenge in July.

Poly Montreal (55) are making good progress on their Cruiser Esteban 10, MIT (4) are making good progress on their Challenger Nimbus, Berkeley (CalSol) have donated their 3-wheel Gold Rush to George Mason (Hypernova), and Vattenfall (7) have a new team, who will rush-build a new Nuna Phoenix specifically for ASC (incorporating features such as a metal roll cage).

See also my updated illustrated list of teams. At present we still have 34 teams registered, but some teams are obviously in trouble, and some cars are not going to get built before July. On the other hand, other teams are making good progress, and Illini (22) are due to reveal their new car on Friday 27 March.

# Yet another quick solar racing update

In recent solar car news, we have now seen new car reveals from several teams. The latest ones are shown above (click to zoom). Promised new car reveals include Vattenfall16 July, Michigan19 July, Stanford21 July, Aachen22 July, WSU7 August, Durham12 August, Cambridge15 August, EcoPhoton: some time in August, and JU30 August. I will continue updating my list of teams as news and pictures come in.

FSGP 2019 team photo – L to R from front: Kentucky, Illini, Esteban (Poly Montréal), W Mich / Florida, Principia, Calgary, SIUE / Northwestern, UPRM, Illinois St, Ga Tech / NCSU, Berkeley (CalSol), Mich St, Waterloo / NJIT, with Rutgers absent (credit)

Meanwhile, 18 teams – Kentucky, Florida, CalSol (1st in 2017), Northwestern, Mich St, Illinois St, Illini, Waterloo, Principia, Ga Tech, Esteban (3rd in 2017), SIUE, Calgary, Rutgers, NJIT, NCSU, W Mich, and UPRM – raced at FSGP 2019 on 1–6 July. Final results were as below (click to zoom):

The FSGP regulations give the score for multi-occupant vehicles (MOV) 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 below (click to zoom) visualises these 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 27 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 distance driven is essentially being squared, and hence dominates the other factors:

It’s also worth mentioning the lap speed record that was set on the COTA track:

# Another quick solar racing update

Four recently revealed vehicles: Top Dutch, Twente, Blue Sky (Toronto), and Kogakuin

In recent solar car news, we have now seen new car reveals from HUST (pic), Top Dutch (video), Twente (video), Blue Sky (video), the commercial solar car Lightyear One (video), Kogakuin (video), and – just now – Agoria (video and below).

The new car from Belgian team Agoria (photo credit)

Promised new car reveals include Eindhoven4 July, HK IVE6 July, NIT6 July, Vattenfall16 July, Michigan19 July, Aachen22 July, and JU30 August. I will continue updating my list of teams as news and pictures come in.

Esteban were first to get all greens in scrutineering for FSGP 2019

Meanwhile, 18 teams – Kentucky, Florida, CalSol (1st in 2017), Northwestern, Mich St, Illinois St, Illini, Waterloo, Principia, Ga Tech, Esteban (3rd in 2017), SIUE, Calgary, Rutgers, NJIT, NCSU, W Mich, and UPRM – are at FSGP 2019 right now. Esteban were first to get all greens!

# 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 34: The Big Climb

The mountains, Day 5 (picture credits: 1, 2)

Well, we had the “Big Climb” in the American Solar Challenge. The mountains were beautiful, but timewise it was an anticlimax. Michigan and ETS / Eclipse slowed down a little, but some other cars actually sped up! The battles for 1st and 3rd are still quite close, as the chart for Farson shows (click to zoom). The Cruisers seem to be trying to pick up the pace a little.

On an unrelated matter, although the American Solar Challenge is far from over, I’m getting a head start on my personal Gem Awards for the race. The “Solar Car Family Gem” goes to Team 55 (Poly Montreal / Esteban) for the multiple mentions in social media of their helpfulness.

Oh, and the tracker seems to be working again. Here (unchecked and unedited) are night-time positions: