World Solar Challenge: Day 6 Wrap



Today in the World Solar Challenge, the next nine Challenger class cars (above) arrived (as always, click to zoom). These cars were (in order) Arrow (team 30, Australia), EAFIT (team 5, Columbia), Western Sydney (team 13, Australia), NWU (team 17, South Africa), Blue Sky (team 77, Canada), UKZN (team 14, South Africa), Goko High School (team 25, Japan), Jönköping University (team 46, Sweden), and Nagoya (team 47, Japan). I believe that Goko High School may be the first high school team to complete 3,022 km on solar power inside of a week.

The first two cars in the Cruiser class also arrived. Kogakuin (team 88, Japan) took out line honours, but Eindhoven (team 40, Netherlands) carried a passenger all the way. I believe that this more than nullifies Kogakuin’s speed advantage. Eindhoven is also likely to collect more “practicality points” in the judging tomorrow.

Also arriving were the first of what I’ve been calling the B race teams, EcoPhoton (team 18, Malaysia, above). These cars spent some time on a trailer, and will therefore compete on the basis of how much of the 3,022 km they were able to travel under their own steam. EcoPhoton have done very well for a new team, particularly given the bad luck they had (a serious battery fire, requiring battery replacement and bodywork repair – see this day 6 wrap by MostDece). They were followed by Cambridge (team 12, UK), who are probably ahead on the km count.

Ardingly (team 43, UK, above), another high school team, also arrived. They are in the B race of the Cruiser class, so their km count may be exceeded by one or more other Cruisers in the B race. The Ardingly students have done very well to build a working Cruiser, and their genuine enthusiasm has earned the respect of the top teams. I hope that they will all continue on to successful university studies.

At some point Siam Technology College (team 22, Thailand) arrived, although I understand that they have formally withdrawn from the race. In the Adventure class, TAFE SA (team 42, Australia) arrived as well. There are only three Adventure class cars, and all three trailered at some point.

Finally, walking back to my hotel, I spotted HK IVE (team 33, Hong Kong) on a trailer. I think they arrived too late for a formal welcome.

Above is another race chart summarising timing data that has been released (and omitting obviously wrong data), while current car positions are shown below. Tomorrow morning we should see Bochum (team 11, Germany) and Sunswift (team 75, Australia) in the Cruiser class, as well as Principia (team 32, USA) and Kanazawa (team 51, Japan) in the Challenger class. I suspect that Minnesota (team 35, USA), Anadolu (team 36, Turkey) and KUST (team 82, Korea) will be forced to trailer by the noon time limit. Other cars – 9, 80, 26, 82, 15, and 7 in the Challenger class; 28, 45, 38, and 31 in the Cruiser class; and 20 and 34 in the Adventure class – have already trailered, and are in the B race. They will no doubt attempt to clock up additional km if possible. The race is not over until Chris Selwood sings!


World Solar Challenge: Schools Update

Here is an update on the four high school teams in the World Solar Challenge.

25 Goko High School

Team 25 is from Goko High School in Japan and their car, Musoushin, is entered in the Challenger class. Their car seemed to be running very well on the track. They were up for scrutineering on Tuesday, and were asked to fix a few things.

43 Ardingly College

Team 43 is from Ardingly College in the UK and their car, Ardingly Solar Car, is entered in the Cruiser class. Their car has received a lot of praise from the “pro” teams. They were up for scrutineering today.

20 Houston School District

Team 20 is from Houston, Mississippi, and their car, Sundancer, is entered in the Adventure class. They have been in the news back home. They are up for scrutineering on Thursday.

34 Liberty Christian School

Team 34 is from Argyle, Texas, and their car, Solis Bellator, is entered in the Adventure class. They were up for scrutineering on Tuesday, and were asked to fix a few things.


WSC Guest Post: An English View #2

Following up from his previous guest post about the Challenger class, today Nigel, our UK-based guest blogger, explains why Team 43 is his favourite in the WSC Cruiser class.

Made in England (Part 2)

Moving on to the Cruiser Class and my second choice. Two weeks ago it was simple, Bochum’s SunRiser is the best looking solar car I’ve ever seen and I hope it wins the event. But then, gradually, my new favourite began to emerge from the shadows – Ardingly College’s imaginatively named Ardingly Solar Car. And perhaps that is why I like this car so much, it leaves very little to the imagination – it’s a solar car and it was made in Ardingly. Furthermore you can see just how it was made, no secrets here – it’s all on show.

I first heard about this project three years ago when the school visited CUER and announced that they were going to build a solar car to race at WSC. Now, lots of teams say that they are going to do just that and many times they do not get anywhere near. I took their promises with a pinch of salt.

Then, in June, the WSC Team List was published and there in the list of Cruisers was Ardingly Solar. I re-visited the team’s website that I had stopped even looking at ages ago and, sure enough, very little had changed. Obviously the team had forgotten to withdraw their initial application but, just in case, I e-mailed the team to find out what they were doing. They replied and I put them in touch with Jeroen Haringman at solarracing.org and we received a picture of a chassis. This was taken in April 2015, the team are secondary (high) school students and all they had was a steel frame, obviously there was no way that they would make it to Australia.


14 April 2015

Well, consider my hat well and truly eaten. The car is on its way, the team will follow soon and that steel frame is the reason I like their car so much.

I like High School Solar Teams in general, I like the honest engineering of their cars. By and large they are not able to secure huge sponsorship deals or to work with large manufacturers so they have to find different solutions.


The team

In Ardingly College’s case that solution was the Lotus 7. You can find plans for a Lotus 7 chassis very easily on the internet, copy it and you know it will work. Add a few bits for safety and you are away.

Ardingly did just that, then they made some panels for the side, they added a motor, some batteries and some seats, stuck on some solar arrays and turned out a beautiful little car. I know it is not as simple as I make it sound, it takes hours of hard work and some very special people who are prepared to share their knowledge for nothing but to help a few youngsters. Those youngsters also have to be very special to carry it through but now I’m sure they will find it was worth it.


The finished vehicle

They won’t win this race, they will do very well to even keep up with the pace they need to avoid putting their car on the trailer but they should know, as they sit on the start line in Darwin, that what they have done already is remarkable.

But if they have made a car that is driven by electric motors, that has batteries that can be charged by the sun and can drive for more than 40 miles per day then they have made a car that suits the needs of most people. And if this is the start just imagine where we might finish.


Teens in Science and Engineering

Today I felt it appropriate to salute those young teenagers who “do hard things” in Science and Engineering (“We choose to go to the moon … and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard”). A few specific examples:

A team of students from Goko High School, Japan entered the 2013 World Solar Challenge. The solar car they designed and built (photo above) outperformed 12 of the university teams in the contest, which is an impressive effort. The school has entered another team in this year’s contest (along with three other high schools).

Raymond Wang (17), from the St. Georges School, Vancouver, Canada, used computational fluid dynamics modelling to design a new air inlet system for aeroplane cabins to improve air quality while at the same time limiting disease transmission within the cabin. He received the Gordon E. Moore Award and $75,000 for this project.

Nicole Ticea (15), from York House School, Vancouver, Canada (working with Simon Fraser University) designed a simple and inexpensive HIV test using Isothermal Nucleic Acid Amplification. She later received an Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award and $50,000 for this work.


Photo: Steven Depolo

High-school students Arthur Admiraal (16) and Jawad Nikrawesh, from Northgo College, Noordwijk, The Netherlands, spent four months designing and building an experiment to study ice cubes melting under different gravity levels. Using temperature sensors, time-lapse photography, an Arduino, and a Raspberry Pi computer, the experiment was intended to be suitable for running in space. It was actually run under high gravity in the Large Diameter Centrifuge (LDC) at ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC). The work received the Hugo van Woerden Prize from the Royal Netherlands Association for Meteorology and Astronomy (KNVWS).

Ellen Fitzgerald (17), Aoife Dolan (17), and Niamh Nyhan (18), from Sacred Heart Secondary School, Clonakilty, Ireland, designed a LED streetlight bulb that could be easily retro-fitted to existing poles. They won first prize at the International Environment and Sustainability Project Olympiad (INESPO) in Amsterdam.

Congratulations to these students and to the thousands of others who study hard and aim high. Well done, and keep up the good work – the world needs you!


World Solar Challenge: Team 43

43  Ardingly College (Ardingly Solar Car)

Ardingly College is an independent co-educational boarding and day school located in Ardingly, West Sussex (photo above by Dave Spicer). They appear to have fielded the first European school team in the WSC, and their solar car (below) is entered in the Cruiser class. The Cambridge University team seem to have provided some technical advice during development, and DHL have sponsored transport of the car to Australia. Construction appears to be slow however.

The team’ newly set up YouTube channel includes this video of construction in progress. Good luck, team 43!

Update: Construction is complete; see this video:

Update: And this photograph:

Update: They also have a new WordPress blog.

For up-to-date lists of all World Solar Challenge 2015 teams, see:

World Solar Challenge: Team 25

25  Goko High School (Musoushin)

Goko High School entered the Cruiser class in 2013, but their nice-looking car sadly lost its rear wheels just outside of Alice Springs. This year, their car is in the Challenger class, competing against universities from around the world. Just recently, it raced at SUZUKA 2015. Good luck, team 25!

Update 1: I am told that Goko’s car managed an average speed of around 63 km/h on the Suzuka track.

Update 2: I have updated the image at the top of this page, having been confused by the fact that Goko runs two solar cars. The car shown on the Facebook page is apparently not the one racing in Australia.

For up-to-date lists of all World Solar Challenge 2015 teams, see:

World Solar Challenge: Team 34

34  Liberty Christian School (Solis Bellator)

Liberty Christian School are one of the four school teams at WSC 2015. Their solar car, Solis Bellator, is entered in the Adventure class, competing against the Petroleum Institute from the UAE, TAFE South Australia, and Houston School District. The car is currently in transit to Australia by sea. Good luck, team 34!

Update: see here for an interview and more details.

For up-to-date lists of all World Solar Challenge 2015 teams, see: