2019 World Solar Challenge update #3


Three Cruiser-class winners (Stella Vie, Stella Lux, and the original Stella) from Solar Team Eindhoven (picture credit)

Warning: this list is obsolete. Please check more recent posts.

Here is yet another update on the 52 teams (27 Challengers, 24 Cruisers, and 1 Adventure car) aiming for the 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia this coming October. Many teams are busy with construction, and below is my best understanding of the current team status. Meanwhile, 26 teams (Bridger, Calgary, CalSol, Esteban, Florida, Ga Tech, Illini, Illinois St, Kentucky, Mich St, Missouri S&T, NCSU, NJIT, Northwestern, Principia, PrISUm, Purdue, Rutgers, SIUE, UBC, UPRM, USC, UT, UVA, W Mich, and Waterloo), including 1 WSC team, are preparing to attend FSGP 2019 in America this July.

Several clickable social media links below have been corrected and some clickable YouTube and blog links have been added. I have also included some subjective traffic lights. The big news is that the Belgians are now called Agoria Solar Team (but fortunately their social media links aren’t changing), that Lodz Solar Team has produced a solar baby, and that Twente has revealed their design (a GaAs catamaran reminiscent of Nuna 9).

By special request, all links in this post (including the clickable social media icons) now open in a new tab or page, depending on your browser (I would welcome feedback on whether this is an improvement):

AU  Looks on track  Adelaide University 

Challenger (Lumen II) – they have been doing a lot of testing.

AU  Hmmm  ATN Solar Car Team 

Cruiser (new team: see my team bio) – they have manufactured several parts of the car interior. This seems to be the body shape.

AU  Hmmm  Australian National University 

Challenger (new car: MTAA Gnowee) – the car is named after a woman in Aboriginal myth who carries the sun.


public domain photo

AU  Looks on track  Flinders University 

Cruiser (Investigator Mark III) – they are planning to improve aerodynamics, reduce weight, and make some other changes.

AU  Looks like they might not make WSC  Swinburne Solar Team 

Cruiser (new team) – this team may no longer be active.

AU  Looks on track  TAFE SA 

Cruiser (SAV) – existing car.

AU  Looks on track  Team Arrow 

Cruiser (ArrowSTF) – as well as racing, their commercial arm, Prohelion, is selling power packages.

AU  Looks on track  University of New South Wales / Sunswift 

Cruiser (Violet) – they set a record for lowest energy consumption driving trans-Australia (Perth to Sydney).

AU  Looks on track  Western Sydney Solar Team 

Challenger (new car) – they won the American Solar Challenge last year.

Western Sydney BWSC 2015 aftermovie (they came 10th in the Challenger class)

BE  Looks on track  Agoria Solar Team (KU Leuven) 

Challenger (new car: BluePoint) – they have some (top secret) production moulds and are now sponsored by Agoria.

CA  Looks on track  ETS Quebec (Eclipse) 

Challenger (Éclipse X.I) – they came an excellent 3rd in the ASC, 102 minutes behind Western Sydney, and hope to go even faster with the new battery pack in their modified car.

CA  Looks on track  University of Toronto (Blue Sky) 

Challenger (new car: Viridian) – they plan to unveil the new car in July.

Interview with current team

CL  Looks on track  Antakari Solar Team 

Challenger (new car: Intikallpa V) – no news on the new design as yet.

Antakari BWSC 2013 aftermovie (they participated in the Adventure class)

CL  Hmmm  Eolian AutoSolar 

Cruiser (new car: Auriga ) – they will be back at the WSC after coming 14th in 2007.


public domain photo

DE  Looks on track  Bochum University of Applied Sciences 

Cruiser (new car) – Bochum also has a solar buggy team.

DE  Looks on track  Sonnenwagen Aachen 

Challenger (new car) – they are getting started with mould manufacturing.

Sonnenwagen Aachen BWSC 2017 aftermovie (they raced in the Challenger class)

HK  Looks on track  Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education 

Cruiser (Sophie 6 plus) – they have been working on the car body.

IN  Hmmm  R.V. College of Engineering 

Challenger (new car) – no details as yet.


public domain photo

IN  Hmmm  SolarMobil Manipal 

Cruiser (SM-S2) – existing car.

IT  Hmmm  Futuro Solare Onlus 

Cruiser (new car: Archimede 2.0) – they have an exciting design concept.

IT  Looks on track  Onda Solare 

Cruiser (Emilia 4) – they won the American Solar Challenge (Cruiser class) last year, and they have written up their design process here.

JP  Looks on track  Kogakuin University 

Challenger (new car) – they have officially announced their participation.

Kogakuin BWSC 2017 aftermovie (they came 7th in the Challenger class)

JP  Looks on track  Nagoya Institute of Technology 

Challenger (new car) – no news on the new design as yet.


public domain photo

JP  Looks on track  Tokai University 

Challenger (new car) – in January they hosted some visitors from Lodz.

KR  Looks on track  Kookmin University Solar Team 

Challenger (new car) – no news on the new design as yet.

KUST BWSC 2017 aftermovie (they raced in the Challenger class)

MY  Looks on track  EcoPhoton / UiTM 

Challenger (new car: Tigris) – no news on the new design as yet, but they already have a very professional media presence. Their fund-raising efforts include some great T-shirts.

MA  Hmmm  Mines Rabat Solar Team 

Challenger (new car: Eleadora 2) – their new catamaran will look like this.

NL  Looks on track  Solar Team Eindhoven 

Cruiser (new car: Stella ?) – they have a good team working on the car and, like many other teams, they plan using Post-it notes. They are turning a shipping container into an oven.

NL  Looks on track  Solar Team Twente 

Challenger (new car: Red E) – they are already producing regular vlogs, and have a vlog for February (Dutch only). They have revealed their design (a GaAs catamaran reminiscent of Nuna 9, at least at the front).

NL  Looks on track  Top Dutch Solar Racing 

Challenger (new team: see my team bio) – they have given their drivers a thorough physical, and made good progress on fabrication.

NL  Looks on track  Vattenfall Solar Team (Delft) 

Challenger (new car: Nuna X) – these are the champions formerly known as Nuon. See their name change announcement video.

PL  Looks on track  Lodz Solar Team 

Cruiser (Eagle Two) – they have produced a solar baby, which is a prize that lasts.

PL  Hmmm  PUT Solar Dynamics 

Cruiser (new team) – they are based in the home town of the famous Australian explorer Paweł Strzelecki.

RU  Hmmm  Polytech Solar 

Cruiser (new car) – no news on the new design as yet.


public domain photo

SG  Looks on track  Singapore Polytechnic 

Cruiser (SunSPEC 5) – they have new motors and new doors.

SE  Looks on track  Chalmers Solar Team 

Challenger (new team: see my team bio) – their final render resembles the car of the South African NWU team. They have a chassis.

SE  Looks on track  Halmstad University Solar Team 

Challenger (new team: see my team bio) – they are planning a bullet car, much like Michigan’s 2017 entry.

SE  Looks on track  JU Solar Team 

Challenger (new car) – they have a rolling test chassis, but the body design seems long and thin.

SE  Looks on track  MDH Solar Team 

Challenger (new car) – some degree of autonomous driving is planned.


public domain photo

CH  Looks on track  Solar Energy Racers 

Challenger (SER-3) – they raced this car in South Africa.

TW  Looks on track  Kaohsiung / Apollo 

Cruiser (new car: Apollo IX) – they have been making some carbon-fibre seats.

TH  Hmmm  Siam Technical College 

Cruiser (new car: STC-3) – no news on the new design as yet.

Siam Technical College BWSC 2017 aftermovie (they raced in the Cruiser class)

TR  Hmmm  Dokuz Eylül University (Solaris) 

Challenger (new car) – they expect the new car to be 44% more efficient than the 2015 model.


public domain photo

GB  Looks on track  Ardingly College 

Cruiser – this high-school team came 6th in the iESC Cruiser class.

GB  Looks on track  Cambridge University 

Cruiser (new car: Helia) – they are busy with fabrication.

GB  Looks on track  Durham University 

Challenger (new car: Ortus) – they have begun fabrication.

US  Looks on track  Appalachian State University (Sunergy) 

Cruiser (new team: see my team bio) – they competed in the American Solar Challenge last year, with their car ROSE.

US  Looks on track  Berkeley (CalSol) 

Cruiser (new car: Tachyon) – they have a bottom shell and roll cage. They will also attend FSGP 2019.

US  Looks on track  Houston School District 

Adventure (Sundancer) – this high school team from from Houston, Mississippi is a regular visitor, because they keep winning the US high school race.

US  Looks on track  Stanford Solar Car Project 

Challenger (new car) – they have donated their 2015 car to the new Rutgers team, and have posted a lengthy status report on their blog.

US  Looks on track  University of Michigan 

Challenger (new car) – they are asking for name suggestions for the new car.

Michigan BWSC 2017 aftermovie (they came 2nd in the Challenger class)

US  Looks on track  University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project 

Cruiser (new car: Freya) – no news on the new design as yet.

UMNSVP BWSC 2015 aftermovie (they came 5th in the Cruiser class)

This page last updated 21:31 on 21 March 2019 AEDT


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ASC 9: Aerodynamics

For both the Challenger class and the Cruiser class, solar car racing is to a large extent about aerodynamic drag. That’s overwhelmingly what the hard-earned solar energy is being wasted on, and therefore it’s what teams need to concentrate on minimising. The drag force on a car is given by the equation:

F = ½ Cd A ρ v2

Breaking that down, v is the speed of the car, ρ is the density of air (about 1.2), A is the frontal area of the car, and Cd is the drag coefficient, a number which indicates how aerodynamic (and therefore, how energy-efficient) the shape of the car is. For Challengers, minimising Cd allows the speed v to be increased, while for Cruisers (for which the average v is essentially given), minimising Cd allows non-solar energy use to be minimised. Of course, minimising frontal area is important too (and that is the motivation behind asymmetric Challenger cars).

To give a feeling for the all-important Cd, here are some vehicles with values ranging from 0.19 to 0.57:


Drag coefficients for a selection of vehicles. Clockwise from top left: 0.57 – Hummer H2 (photo: Thomas Doerfer); 0.30 – Saab 92 (photo: “Liftarn”); 0.26 – BMW i8 (photo: “youkeys”); 0.19 – General Motors EV1 (photo: Rick Rowen)

Because Cd is so all-important, it is the one thing that solar car teams are really secretive about. Challengers generally have values under 0.1. With no need for practicality, they chase their way towards the impossible goal of Cd = 0, trying to come up with the perfect race car, which will slice through air like a hot knife through butter:


Nuon’s 2005 car, Nuna 3, with Cd = 0.07 (photo: Hans-Peter van Velthoven)

Cruisers, on the other hand, have to balance aerodynamics with practicality. Bochum’s early SolarWorld GT had Cd = 0.137:


Bochum’s 2011 car, SolarWorld GT, with Cd = 0.137 (photo: “SolarLabor”)

Eindhoven’s recent Stella Vie, with its sleek aerodynamic shape, does much better than that (but they won’t say how much better):


Eindhoven’s 2017 car, Stella Vie (photo: TU Eindhoven, Bart van Overbeeke)

I understand that Sunswift’s 2013–2015 car eVe had Cd = 0.16. Appalachian State (Sunergy) have stated that their newly-built ROSE has Cd = 0.17. PrISUm’s Penumbra has a higher value (Cd = 0.2), because of the blunt end which they chose for practicality reasons (although they did do a few clever things to reduce the impact of that blunt end). I’m not aware of the Cd values for other ASC cars.


Appalachian State’s beautiful ROSE, with Cd = 0.17 (image credit)


ASC 8: About Cruiser Practicality

The American Solar Challenge Cruiser class is a contest for multi-person solar vehicles, each powered by 5 square metres of silicon solar cells (or 3.3 m2 of multi-junction cells), with the option of recharging from the grid. The contest is not actually a race – cars must get to the finish line on time, carrying as many people as possible, and drawing as little power from the grid as possible.

Cars are also scored partly on practicality. This can mean different things. Eindhoven’s 2015 car (Stella Lux), for example, was designed as a four-person family car, and the team took photos of it doing family things like shopping, going on holiday, and picking children up from school. A big feature was that, for an average family in the Netherlands, the car would produce more electricity than it used. The car scored 84.5 for practicality at the 2015 World Solar Challenge.


Eindhoven’s Stella Lux (photos: TU Eindhoven, Bart van Overbeeke 1, 2, 3, 4 – click to zoom)

Bochum’s 2015 car (ThyssenKrupp SunRiser), on the other hand, was a luxury two-person sports car, with leather seats and an incredibly beautiful interior. It was an almost perfect example of the car it was trying to be, and scored 80.5 for practicality (far higher than the next car, which scored 63.5).


Bochum’s ThyssenKrupp SunRiser (photo: Anthony Dekker)

One of the highest WSC 2017 Cruiser practicality scores went to PrISUm for their four-seat Penumbra, which was intended as the kind of practical SUV that you might take on a fishing trip. The car has plenty of room for carrying your esky, tackle box, etc. PrISUm deliberately made some aerodynamic compromises in order to achieve their practicality goal, and the car scored 79.8 for practicality at WSC 2017.


PrISUm’s Penumbra (composite image)

This year at ASC, PrISUm’s Penumbra is again a strong contender. Minnesota (UMNSVP), Appalachian State (Sunergy), and Waterloo (Midnight Sun) are entering two-person solar sports cars, while Onda Solare from Italy seems to be inspired by Eindhoven (see my annotated teams list). It promises to be an interesting field.


Solar car team composition

The chart above shows 2017 team composition for the Eindhoven and Bochum solar car teams (divided by study major, not team responsibility). Not surprisingly, electrical and mechanical engineering students are the core of both teams (about half in each case) Yet there is also considerable diversity, because the business side of a solar car team requires other skills too. The Bochum team also includes a media unit, which explains the large “other” category (one of the team photographers is a biology student, for example).

The chart was constructed by parsing web pages, which may have introduced errors (also, I guessed a bit with the German words). But the main point stands – solar car teams require a diverse set of skills.


The Bochum car (photo: Anthony Dekker)


WSC: final Cruiser results

Based on the official results, the chart below (click to zoom) shows the final scores for the WSC Cruiser class. Each team has three coloured bars: first the number of person-kilometres, which should be large (black icons show occupied seats and white icons empty seats), then the energy usage, which should be small (number of charges, which is 6 in each case, times battery capacity), and finally the overall efficiency score, which should be large again (it is the ratio of those first two numbers). The rule for the efficiency score bar is: first bar divided by second bar, then scale so that the largest result is 80%. The scaled practicality scores out of 20 (grey bars) are then added. Eindhoven is the clear winner, with Bochum second.

The chart below (click to zoom) shows the raw practicality scores for all Cruisers (finishing, non-finishing, and non-starting).


WSC: three gem awards


Nuna9, the car from Nuon Solar Team

It has been my tradition to hand out “Gem Awards” after major solar car races. This WSC, the “Faster Than Lightning” gem again goes to Nuon Solar Team, the undefeated Challenger champions.


The 2017 “Faster Than Lightning” gem goes to Nuon Solar Team

 


Stella Vie, the car from Solar Team Eindhoven

The “Solar Family Car” gem again goes to Solar Team Eindhoven. They completely dominated the Cruiser class.


The 2017 “Solar Family Car” gem goes to Solar Team Eindhoven

 


Western Sydney Solar Team

The “Solar Car Family” gems go to Western Sydney Solar Team, for the way that they welcomed international teams passing through Sydney. Western Sydney Solar Team are, of course, also Australian champions in the Challenger class.


The 2017 “Solar Car Family” gems go to Western Sydney Solar Team