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Transportation Power Technology

University of Michigan Solar Car Wins Fifth Straight National Title 25

An anonymous reader writes For the fifth consecutive year, the solar car team from the University of Michigan has won the American Solar Car Challenge. The event is an eight-day, 1,700-mile race with a total of 23 participating teams. The Umich victory comes in spite of a 20-30 minute delay when they had problems with the motor at the very beginning of the race. "They made the time up when team strategists decided to push the car to the speed limit while the sun was shining bright, rather than hold back to conserve energy." Footage of the race and daily updates on the car's performance are available from the team's website, as are the specs of the car itself. Notably, the current iteration of the car weighs only 320 pounds, a full 200 pounds lighter than the previous version.
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University of Michigan Solar Car Wins Fifth Straight National Title

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  • That's close to Detroit, right?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Tuesday night, Detroit city council members were seen on the streets with suitcases full of deeds, desperately trying to sell the city piecemeal to Canadian tourists.

      • Anyone remember that this was the humorous subplot of the otherwise godawful Robocop 2? The city of Detroit had went bankrupt and the mayor was holding a pathetic telethon to try to raise money to save the city from being bought outright by OCP. Today's joke becomes tomorrow's reality, I guess.

  • Sounds like NASCAR strategy right there, I don't care who you are.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Only 320 pounds? That's a pretty dramatic improvement, but then the UMich solar car team has always had some pretty deep-pocket backers. It is a shame that most of the teams have gone to the three-wheel trike and pancake design - basically copying the Honda and Swiss teams from the 1990 World Solar Challenge. The old "tadpole truck" design UMich used to have was pretty impressive.

    • As cool as these cars are, they are starting to all look alike.

      How about this? Add a rule that they have to have, say, 50 cubic feet of storage inside the car (in addition to the driver).
      • Re:How about... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Harlequin80 ( 1671040 ) on Wednesday July 30, 2014 @02:26AM (#47563811)

        Then they would all look alike but with 50 cubic feet of storage.

        That is the problem with any engineering challenge where the conditions of a test are repeated over and over. Everyone will naturally move towards the same design as, without a major technological break through, that design is the most efficient concept.

        It is the major reason I hate the direction motorcycle racing is going. By bringing in more rules about what is and isn't allowed they are reducing the possible solutions.

        • What type of motorcycle racing? Can you elaborate? (I don’t know much about it but I’ve been getting curious. Is it like the increasingly arcane F1 restrictions expressly designed to keep speeds down on tracks designed for slower cars?)

          • The new F1 regs are about a lot more than "slowing things down". They have gone from a 750 hp engine to a 600 hp one PLUS "Energy Recovery System" [formula1.com]. This is exactly the kind of innovation that makes sense.

            The latest high-end sports cars use exactly this sort of hybrid setup, so it is completely logical that the traditional racetrack-consumer synergy be continued with this change.

            In this sense, F1 is adapting and remaining meaningful (to high end cars), where the electric plywood-on-wheels cars are incr
          • MotoGP and World SuperBike. The rules aren't really designed to slow the bikes down. It was supposedly to keep the costs down but that hasn't happened. It has had the effect of pushing a lot of the development into materials.

            Recent motogp changes that I don't like include:
            Control tyres - you used to have michelin, dunlop and bridgestone developing tyres to suit the characterestics of a particular bike. Because the tyres had different wear characteristics you saw different tyres perform better on differe

      • As cool as these cars are, they are starting to all look alike.

        Physics is a harsh mistress. They tend to look a lot alike because physics combined with the rules of the contest will generally force the designs towards an optimum. In other words they are going to tend to converge on the same general design over time.

        • Then change the design yearly. Each year have a useful new goal -- motors can only weigh so much, vehicle must be able to seat 4 upright, bonus points for gizmos.

          These solar cars have been "a piece of wood with 4 tiny wheels" for a decade or more.

          Have them tow a trailer one year, or hill climb, or drive through mud (run the race through the south). Speaking of hill climb -- have a Pike's Peak race.
          • They have been the same physical layout but their aerodynamic profile isn't what this competition is designed to challenge. What they want to challenge is the electrical system. How much power can your cells generate, how efficiently can you transfer that power to your motor, how versatile is the motor and how well can you store that power for when the sun isn't as bright.

            These aspects have continued to develop every year.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    As a current EE major a Michigan, Go Blue!

They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them.