Solar Car Racing Team Sizes

Solar Team Eindhoven

I’ve been hearing some curiosity about the sizes of solar car teams, and so I checked out the online team lists for Punch, Bochum, Twente, Eindhoven, Nuon, Lodz, Michigan, MIT, PrISUm, and Sunswift. The histogram below summarises what I found. The superb Bochum team is the largest, with 77 members. Champions Nuon have the smallest team, with 16. Apparently it’s not just size that is important.

See also my list of WSC solar car teams.

West European Solar Party

Solar Team Eindhoven has been hosting WESP 2016, the West European Solar Party.

If the pictures on Facebook are any indication, everybody had a good time. Since “wesp” is Dutch for “wasp,” several people turned up in appropriate costume. Building and racing solar cars is a stressful business, so the teams certainly deserved a party!

Teams attending the event included (among others):

Lodz Solar Team (some of them)

Nuon Solar Team (some of them)

Praising Eindhoven

Eindhoven University of Technology campus (photo: Arno van den Tillaart)

The Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) is one of the world’s premier technical institutions. It is ranked 62nd in the world on the Times Higher Education list of engineering institutions. I have been privileged to meet students from TU/e on a number of occasions, and they are among the best in the world.

TU/e was founded in 1956. The city of Eindhoven is home to Philips, DAF Trucks, and the High Tech Campus Eindhoven. Among other things, the university acts as a feeder school to those companies, and this requires both a practical focus and a solid basis in mathematics and theory.

TU/e is one of three Dutch technical universities (Delft and Twente being the others). All three run solar car teams, which showcase the students’ technical expertise. Eindhoven’s team has won the World Solar Challenge Cruiser class in both 2013 and 2015, with their “solar family cars” (see this article in IEEE Spectrum).

Eindhoven’s solar car Stella Lux at the 2015 World Solar Challenge, where it won the Cruiser class (my photo)

WSC Results (2)

The World Solar Challenge has finally released official results of the race (for Challengers, Cruisers, and Adventure class), and the chart below shows the breakdown of scores for the top five Cruiser class cars. As in my 2013 version of this chart, each coloured left-hand-side bar is the sum of the other four bars with the same colour.

The times used for scoring by the WSC are based, as far as I can see, on the time from Darwin to Adelaide (rather than to the so-called “end of timing” point) minus the waiting time at control stops and at Alice Springs. I suspect that Kogakuin might have won had they chosen not to recharge at Alice Springs (which would have slowed them down a little, but would have cost everybody else 7.5 points). As it was, Kogakuin’s speed advantage of 2.7 points almost exactly counterbalanced Eindhoven’s passenger advantage of 2.5 points, leaving practicality to decide the winner.

For comparison, here is the 2013 version of this chart. This year, the external energy use component decreased from 18.9% to 15%, the speed component increased from 56.6% to 70%, the passenger-carrying component decreased slightly from 5.7% to 5%, and the practicality-judging component decreased from 18.9% to 10%

WSC: Final Gem Awards

My final Scientific Gems WSC “gem awards” for 2015. The “solar family car” gem goes to Eindhoven, for showing that a family car can still win the Cruiser class.

The “solar family car” gem goes to Eindhoven (team 40)

The “solar car family” gems go to everybody who helped the EcoPhoton team from Malaysia repair their car in Alice Springs – a group that includes several Cruiser class team members, as well as blogger MostDece (and I planned to say this several hours before the WSC handed out an official award for the exact same thing).

The “solar car family” gems go to the people who helped repair Stingray in Alice Springs

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!

WSC: Eindhoven first to pass static scrutineering!

Solar Team Eindhoven were the first team to pass static scrutineering – they were very happy about it! (photo: Solar Team Eindhoven)

Here is the current status for World Solar Challenge teams, not including teams that have withdrawn from the race or failed to turn up (Intikallpa #4, PI #6, ITU #24, and KL Uni #37). The PASS icon marks teams that have passed static scrutineering (2 teams, so far), the FAIL icon marks teams that have failed (no teams), and the ? icon marks teams that have been asked to re-present (8 teams). Data was extracted from the WSC website (using R).

Cruiser class – 11 teams

Challenger class – 29 teams

Adventure class – 3 teams