2010 American Solar Challenge
Posted by Jeff Condon on June 26, 2010
The 2010 American solar challenge just drove past my house. A 2500 mile, multi-leg race for solar powered cars. Back in college my alma-mater, WMU, was participating in this race. It’s good to see them still at it. The race is a 100% solar powered car, our school as usual is far less funded than larger universities like U of M, which receives the best cells, batteries and motors. U of M is from Michigan though and my uncle was Dean of Housing or something there when I was a kid so it’s great to see them doing so well.
On the way back from the gas station I passed U of M, a second car was close behind which I didn’t catch the name on and Stanford was a close third. Since this is the last day of the race, it looks like U of M will take top spot. I stood out in the sun with my wife and oldest son watching the cars race by for an hour.
The U of M car is below, it looked pretty sweet ripping along at about 55 mph, they weren’t holding traffic up at all.
How about Hochschule-Bochum’s entry
Most cars took the profile of the Stanford version. Flat but slightly thickened with covers over wheels to reduce drag and a bubble for the driver.
WMU has taken that approach this time, when I was in school – graduated in the early 90′s – they were using more of a teardrop shape.
I did most of my learning in the optics lab while in college. In fact, looking back, classes didn’t amount to much for me. I can recall going weeks in the lab skipping the majority of my classes to study whatever was fun at the moment. However, these sorts of extracurricular activities were some of the coolest things going on. Most students take them for their resume’s, a few just can’t resist them. Back then, I was having more fun than anyone had a right to. A lot of it was in a lab. I didn’t work on the solar car other than a few conversations with the team members, although I did participate in a saturn hybrid car build – that was fun too.
Anyway, it was such an awesome surprise to see these cars ripping down the road. They are much better than they used to be, but will probably never replace real cars because there isn’t enough energy involved. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few personal vehicles made the transition sometime but probably for other uses than serious travel. These things carry no weight which isn’t absolutely required, there is no safety in a crash and they are incredibly expensive. All pluses for a college student.
It was an exciting surprise today and made my afternoon.