Dunsfold Solar Car Takeover


The Ardingly, Durham, and Cambridge cars, with the retired 747s on display at Dunsfold in the background (credit: Ardingly)

On 26th September, the 4 active UK solar car teams (see this illustrated list) got together at Dunsfold Aerodrome, site for the BBC television series Top Gear. The teams are:


The University of Nottingham team have previous experience with their sister project in the Formula Student competition. Their solar car is still being completed, but they showed off their racing car, Frankie (credit: UoN team)

During the day, the three solar cars ran slaloms and figure eights, and exchanged experiences in a spirit of friendly competition.


DUEM’s Ortus from the chase car (credit: DUEM)

At a time when Covid prevented the UK teams from participating in International competitions, this event did much to keep the solar car spirit alive, so I am glad that DUEM organised it.


Three solar cars and four teams (credit: DUEM)


Solar cars in the UK

Here is a list of 4 active UK solar car teams. On 26th September, Durham has invited all the UK teams to a friendly track race at Dunsfold Aerodrome, site for the BBC television series Top Gear. A sort of “Top Solar Gear,” I guess.


A retired 747-200, registration G-BDXJ, parked at Dunsfold Aerodrome – so it will be true to say that the solar cars will be faster than the 747.

20  GB  Durham University Electric Motorsport 

Asymmetric challenger (Ortus) – Durham are the UK’s premier team. They have been upgrading their car after racing in Australia in 2019. They are one of the few teams to report a CdA value (0.107 for Ortus). They displayed great initiative by running their own Ouston Solar Challenge when Covid-19 prevented their travel to iESC 2020. They are currently engaged in a Solar Tour of the UK as an outreach activity, concluding with the Dunsfold event.

Previously, Durham came 27th at WSC 15; participated at WSC 17; and came 14th at WSC 19.

 
Left: Anthony Dekker / Right: credit (click images to zoom)

12  GB  Cambridge University Eco Racing 

Four-seat cruiser (Helia) – they will be staying in the UK this year, and attending the British Motor Show.

Previously, Cambridge came 22nd at WSC 15; participated in the WSC 19 Cruiser class; and came 10th at iESC 16.

 
Left: Nigel / Right: credit (click images to zoom)

23  GB  University of Nottingham Solar Racing Team 

Cruiser (new team) – their rather radical approach is to modify a Renault Twizy to have solar panels, improved electrics, and second life Nissan Leaf batteries. They aim to participate at iESC 2022 with their first car.


photo: UoN team (click image to zoom)

43  GB  Ardingly Ifield Solar 

Two-seat cruiser (Ardingly Solar Car) – this high-school team came 6th in the 2018 iESC Cruiser class, and have upgraded the car since then. They also did a UK solar tour, and also attended the British Motor Show.

Previously, Ardingly participated in the WSC 15 Cruiser class; participated in the WSC 19 Adventure class; came 6th in the iESC 18 Cruiser class; and participated at Albi Eco 19.

 
Left: Anthony Dekker / Right: credit (click images to zoom)


COVID-19 in the UK #4

The chart above (click to zoom) is an updated view of registered deaths in England and Wales according to the ONS up to the end of the year, along with data from previous years.

The difference between the red and black lines (highlighted in yellow and labelled A) indicates deaths where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

There was also a spike in non-COVID-19 deaths (labelled B), which seems to reflect under-treatment of cancer and other serious diseases during the lockdown. The Telegraph expressed concern at this some time ago, and I myself know people in this tragic category.

For a while (label C) deaths were actually running slightly below trend, but deaths unrelated to COVID-19 then increased again, perhaps due to the renewed lockdown. More recently, there are now indications of a “second wave” of COVID-19, with a slight increase in deaths where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate (labelled D). However, the increase is significantly slower than the first wave, and (given the dip in the red line) some of these reported COVID-19 deaths may be misdiagnosed seasonal influenza. The overall death rate at the end of the year was much the same as for previous years.

The bar chart at the bottom shows a year-to-date comparison with previous years. The white additions to the bars for previous years show an adjustment to account for population growth.


COVID-19 in the UK #3

The chart above (click to zoom) is an updated view of registered deaths in England and Wales according to the ONS up to 4 September, along with data from previous years.

The difference between the red and black lines (highlighted in yellow and labelled A) indicates deaths where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate. The scale of the deaths is sobering, although the worst seems to be over.

There was also a spike in non-COVID-19 deaths (labelled B), which seems to reflect under-treatment of cancer and other serious diseases during the lockdown. The Telegraph expressed concern at this some time ago, and I myself know people in this tragic category. Hopefully, things will be handled better the next time there is an epidemic

Recent deaths (labelled C) have been running slightly below trend, presumably because some of the vulnerable people in the community who would have died about now are already dead.

The bar chart at the bottom shows a year-to-date comparison with previous years. The white additions to the bars for previous years show an adjustment to account for population growth.


COVID-19 in the UK #2

The chart above (click to zoom) is an updated view of registered deaths in England and Wales according to the ONS up to 26 June. The difference between the red and black lines (highlighted in yellow) indicates deaths where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate. The red line shows that a spike in non-COVID-19 deaths also took place.

Sombre news, but the COVID-19 peak seems to have passed.

Edit 1: Updated chart for more recent data.

Edit 2: The Telegraph is expressing concern at the spike in non-COVID-19 deaths, which seems to reflect under-treatment of cancer and other serious diseases during the lockdown.


COVID-19 in the UK

The chart above (click to zoom) shows registered deaths in the UK according to the ONS up to 10 April (note that during holiday periods, some deaths may be “carried over” to the next week). The year 2020 is on the way to passing 2018 as the worst year of recent times, with the fortnight to 10 April being particularly bad.

The difference between the red and black lines (highlighted in yellow) indicates deaths where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate (this includes deaths “with” as well as “from” COVID-19, although other data suggests that in most cases COVID-19 would be the actual cause of death). A clear COVID-19 spike is visible.

The jump in the red line is also disturbing, however. The the red line shows deaths excluding deaths where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate. The jump in the red line may indicate:

  • COVID-19 deaths where no test was done (unlikely, because the records show only a slight increase in deaths by non-COVID respiratory illness); or
  • deaths from other causes exacerbated by lack of hospital beds; or
  • deaths due to the current lockdown itself (e.g. suicides).

At present, I have no way of deciding which of those three options are the correct ones. Hopefully both COVID-19 and those other factors will pass soon (the IHME model suggests that COVID-19 deaths in the UK reached their peak on 21 April).

I should note that CNBC has also looked at this dataset, but they’ve compared this year against an average period that excludes 2018 and 2019. I don’t know why they did that.


World Solar Challenge head to head: UK

The World Solar Challenge is an exciting race to find the best solar car in the world. That makes for serious competition between countries. But there are also some interesting contests within countries. The most obvious is between Nuon (3) and Twente (21), who came first and second in the Challenger class last time.

Within the UK, Cambridge University (12, above) has spent several years trying to make their series of teardrop-shaped cars succeed. The new rules may help with this. Meanwhile, Durham University (20) have improved their 2015 car (DUSC, below), and are ready to make it zoom. Who will be the fastest British Challenger this year?