A solar car racing year

Here is a salute to the winners of the major solar car races this year:

Congratulations to Equipo Solar KAN, Michigan, Twente, and Nuon… and looking forward to seeing teams from across the world in Australia a year from now!


Final words on the European Solar Challenge

Further to my post on the European Solar Challenge results, here is a graph of the lap counts during the 24 hour track race (with thanks to Nigel for the data). Twente had an explicit strategy of not driving excessively fast, and braking as little as possible, in order to keep their recharge times to just one hour. This certainly paid off for them! The graph also shows those teams that had trouble of various kinds.


European Solar Challenge 2016 Results


Circuit Zolder seen from above (imagery: Landsat, car photo: Anthony Dekker)

The European Solar Challenge at Circuit Zolder this year had an interesting format, with a 24 hour endurance track race, a competition for the fastest lap time, a chicane challenge, and a presentation about the car. Requiring a balance between speed, cornering ability, and battery capacity, the track race seemed to provide a fair competition for both Cruiser-class and Challenger-class cars.

Twente won the track race, with 278 laps (ahead of the Tesla with 273 laps), followed by Punch Powertrain from Leuven (262) and the PowerCore Suncruiser from Bochum (258). The Thyssenkrupp Sunriser from Bochum ran the fastest lap (3:03.063), followed by their Solarworld GT (3:09.990) and the Swiss Solar Energy Racers (3:19.891). The chicane challenge was won by the Solarworld GT, and the presentation by Twente.

The chart below shows the updated and official team points. The bars labelled “Total” on the left are the sum of all the other bars. Teams with zero points are not shown. Congratulations to all the teams, especially Twente, who won overall, Punch Powertrain, who came second, and the Thyssenkrupp Sunriser, which came third!

World Solar Challenge: the board game!

Readers of this blog will know that I am passionate about science / technology / engineering / mathematics education, and that I am passionate about board games, and that I am passionate about solar car racing (with the ESC and the Sasol Solar Challenge coming up soon). Wouldn’t it be great if those three things could be combined?

Well, now they can! To assist solar car teams with education/outreach efforts, I’ve put together a simple board game based on the World Solar Challenge, and aimed mostly at kids. It looks like this:

The online game store (faciliated by the wonderful people at The Game Crafter) has a free download link for the rules, should anyone wish to take a look. I also have a few other educational games there.


European Solar Challenge 2016 Update

Below, once again, are the 12 solar car teams that will be competing in the European Solar Challenge this year, with revised links to their websites and social media. The ESC will be held at Circuit Zolder in Belgium from September 23 to 25 this year. It will be a 24 hour endurance track race, competing against a (non-solar) Tesla Model S (however, teams may charge their car from mains power up to two times, if they stop for an hour to do so). About half the points for the ESC will come from the number of laps of the track completed. Other points will come from the fastest lap time, a timed chicane challenge on the 23rd, and a presentation about the car. Follow the event on Facebook and Twitter.


Circuit Zolder seen from above (imagery: Landsat, car photo: Anthony Dekker)

The 24 hour track race starts at 13:00 on the 24th, and sunset will be at 19:32 that evening. The sun will rise again at 07:30 the next morning, and the race will continue until 13:00 on the 25th. Long-range weather forecasting suggested that the weather might be cloudy that weekend, but a more up-to-date forecast suggests sun (see diagram below). See also this nearby weathercam (about 8.5 km away, and facing towards the racetrack).


Advance weather forecast for the 24 hour track race

DE  Bochum University of Applied Sciences 

This team came 3rd in the Cruiser class at WSC 2015. Bochum are fielding three teams at ESC (racing the Solarworld GT, which drove around the world in 2011/12; the PowerCore SunCruiser from WSC 2013; and the beautiful ThyssenKrupp SunRiser from WSC 2015).

  

GB  Cambridge University 

This team came 22nd in the Challenger class at WSC 2015. Their car has an interesting teardrop design.

TR  Dokuz Eylül University / Solaris 

This team came 25th in the Challenger class at WSC 2015.

CO  EAFIT / Cambria 

This is a new team. They have posted a nice team overview video.

IT  Futuro Solare 

This appears to be a relatively new team. Read more about them here. Their car is called Archimede in honour of the famous mathematician of that name, who was a native of Syracuse, the team’s home town.

TR  Istanbul Technical University 

This team came 17th in the Challenger class at WSC 2013. They will be racing a rebuilt version of one of their old Challenger class cars, not the more recent Cruiser shown below.

IT  Onda Solare 

This team came 10th in the Challenger class at WSC 2013, and 10th in the 2015 Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge. They came 2nd in the Evolución class at the 2016 Carrera Solar Atacama.

BE  Punch Powertrain Solar Team 

This team came 3rd in the 2015 Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge, and 5th in the Challenger class at WSC 2015. They will be racing Indupol One, their entry from WSC 2013.

CH  Solar Energy Racers 

This team came 5th in the Challenger class at WSC 2013, and 11th in the 2015 Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge. They also participated in this year’s American Solar Challenge. They will be racing their SER-1 car, which was their entry in the 2011 WSC.

NL  Solar Team Twente 

This team came 2nd in the Challenger class at WSC 2015. Their Red One is the fastest entry in terms of raw speed. Whether that is enough to win the challenge remains to be seen.

Here is the scoring matrix for the event:

  Chicane Fastest Lap 24-hour Race Presentation
1st 20 20 50 10
2nd 15 15 40 8
3rd 10 10 30 6
4th 5 5 20 4
5th 0 0 10 2

This post last updated 11:29 on 23 September 2016 AEST


Preparing for the 2017 World Solar Challenge

The 2017 World Solar Challenge is still 16 months away. But in those 16 months, teams have to design, build, and test a solar car, prepare for racing it, and get it and themselves to Australia. That is a great deal of work!

I was chatting to a friend recently about which hopeful teams stand a chance of doing well, and at this stage I would be looking for three positive signs. First, there should be a team (and a suitably diverse one). It is already a little late to be recruiting.


The new team from Twente

Second, teams should have digested the new regulations and be thinking about the design issues arising from them.


Twente team-members study the 2017 regulations

And third, every WSC team has been constrained by financial limits. Consequently, teams should already have their fundraising machinery up and running, including a website and designated fundraising and PR people. The month before the race is not a good time to be trying to raise travel expenses.

I hope that all the teams, especially the newer ones, are up and running in this way!


Praising Twente


The green University of Twente campus (photo: “Galaufs”)

The University of Twente is located near Enschede, in the eastern Netherlands. The university has one of my favourite solar car teams, and is ranked equal 82nd in the world on the Times Higher Education list of engineering institutions.


Artwork on the University of Twente campus (photo: “Daiancita”)

The University of Twente was founded in 1961 as the Technische Hogeschool Twente, joining similar technical institutions at Delft and Eindhoven. Today, the university teaches a number of subjects beyond Engineering, and the current name reflects this broader focus, which includes Health, Administration, IT, and Behavioural Sciences.


Twente’s solar car Red One comes 2nd in the 2015 World Solar Challenge (my photo)