Wednesday, October 14, 2015

WSC 2015: 14 October 2015

Check out WSC's timing page for the latest on each team's inspection status. As of press time, the following teams are passed through Static inspection: Arrow, Eindhoven, Stanford, Nuon, UNSW, TAFE SA, NWU, and IVE.

A few quick links from today and yesterday:

Nuon posted a short blog, showing off their very sharp trailing edge, as well as discussing the automatic fire supression system in their battery pack.

The University of Adelaide posted a photo set and timelapse video of replacing their entire solar array.

SunSpec posted a timelapse of pitlane from this morning at Hidden Valley.

A local news station did a story on WSC.

On to the photos! Today was a busy day in the inspection bay.

The WSC trophy on display in the center of the inspection area. In addition to everlasting glory, the winners get to babysit this for the next two years. Personally, I object to any trophy that can't be used to victoriously quaff beer.
KIT displaying their array normalization.
I'm sort of mystified by that gap in the front of their car.
Really mystified. Also, is that an electric steering actuator I see on KIT's rear suspension?
NWU tilting their array up
NWU's battery is up in the front
Bicycle stem used in NWU's steering. Note that they are also doing a pitman arm/drag link setup. I'm curious how their front suspension works.
Large mystery shock in the middle of NWU's chassis.
Mitsuba motor on NWU's car
Only the single motor, though - they've built a blank to mount the Mitsuba's disc brake on the opposite side without a motor.
Blue Sky's car also has its battery up in the front of the car. Also, Horizon's roll cage is one of the few I've seen so far that looks even vaguely safe.
Blue Sky normalizing their array
Similar to Eindhoven and Sunswift, IVE can only flip up their trunk for normalization.
The team celebrating after passing static inspection.
Twente's array normalization was quite a production. First they laid out this black blanket, and drove the car up onto it...
...the array was placed up on blocks fairly far inboard from the edge of the chassis...
...and mirrors were set up along the lower edge of the array. SABINE makes a little more sense now - those mirrors aren't going to provide even illumination over the array.
Twente has made a blog post about their mirrors.

Matching chrome helmets
The patch next to the canopy uses diced cells, unlike the rest of the array.

Twente's forward signage is causing a lot of controversy. It's placed right in front of the windshield, rather than on the leading edge of the car. The 2013 WSC regs had a lot of wiggle room in the front signage, but this year they are very explicit. Reg 2.18.4 states: Solar EVs must have an unbroken front signage area, 600 × 150 mm, at the front of the Solar EV. The Event logo; name of the Entrant; name of the Team and the name of the car should be placed at the leading edge. Twente's signage definitely neither at the front of the car nor at the leading edge. We've heard a lot of chatter about this from both teams and WSC officials, and we're very interested to see how WSC will address this blatant rule violation.

Punch tilting their entire car to normalize.
MIT normalizing their array.

I have no idea what the big gold thing on MIT's steering column is for - unless I'm completely blind, it's not a sensor for rear steering - the rear wheels look fixed in place.
Here's some fun. In this picture from yesterday, Michigan was for some reason monkeying around with a backup canopy in the late afternoon. I was a little confused at the time, but see below for some pictures from today... 
Whoops! They forgot about the license plate - the original driver bubble had no window in the back.
WSC made them cut an even larger window later in the day.
Aurum's array also looks surprisingly worn - there's a lot of scratches on the rear right corner...
The inside of Solaris's car. Note that the driver has not one, but two fire extinguishers at hand.
Normalizing the array
I'm not familiar with Solaris's motor - it looks very Mitsuba-ish, but is missing the typical red anodizing.
Kogakuin's car with some sweet headlights
Tilting the car up onto some air mattresses...
Some blue foam shims to keep it upright on the air mattresses 
Kogakuin did a little show of taking their hands off the car to prove it could stand on it's own, but it was clear they didn't trust the setup - their hands were off for such a short time that I missed my photo opportunity. The inspectors did not seem impressed, and I'm sure there were concerns about the air mattresses - Kogakuin brought them in from outside fully-inflated, but they technically need to be carried inside the car. Kogakuin must have had their own doubts, because they were prepared with an alternative:

Voila! Some little brackets suction-cupped to the windshield, an aluminized-mylar sheet to reflect light back onto the array, and some little footstools to prop the car up at more of an angle.
The inside of Beijing's car. Note the mechanism for turning the front left fairing.
The entire fairing turns.
Standard automotive 3-point harness. Standard home wifi router for telemetry.
What is going on with Beijing's suspension? The wacky angles between the A-arms will give it very high negative camber gain in bump (leading to massive tire scrub) and that super laydown shock... I can't imagine this car will be stable on the road.
The Beijing team brought out this pre-assembled 80/20 thing for normalizing the array on top of the chassis. There's no way it can be stored inside the car without major modifications. The inspectors downvoted it before the team even got to pop the array up, and the team had to move onto the next station.
This Chinese flag decal was put onto the canopy with the utmost of care. Snark aside, Beijing's car is stark - it only has the bare minimum of required signage - no sponsor logos at all.
Minnesota pops their array panels up. Similar to Bochum, it seemed kinda fiddly and took a while to set up. On the other hand, the two teams are the only Cruiser teams we've seen so far that get their array anywhere close to pointed sideways.
Access holes underneath the front array panel
Battery inspection
Kookmin normalizing their array. 
Note the partially-trimmed Sunpower cells - except for the 7 lonely untrimmed cells,
along the right edge of the car aft of the driver.
Kookmin's chassis, with some interesting bellcranks in the steering.
Very sharp U-joint angle in WSU's steering
WSU's chassis is very cleanly manufactured
Dat carbon suspension
So cleeeaaannnn 
It's not all great, though - the fitment of the windshield is pretty poor.
I'm told the duct tape on the front of the fairings is from "last minute aerodynamic modifications". I can't decide if that's the literal truth, or a euphemism for "we hit a curb".
The whole car tilts up...
...and that's how WSU will be normalizing. Note the sweet artwork on the bottom of the car.
And that's that for the 2nd day of static inspections. So far, we've seen four cars do the tilt-the-whole-car maneuver - UKZN, Stanford, Punch, WSU (five if you count Kogakuin, which I'm not sure if they'll be allowed to do). 

After inspection, we went out to the track to see what was going on. The big news was that RVCE, the team from India, finally has their car!

Unfortunately, RVCE doesn't have a battery yet - I was told it's been delayed in Memphis, Tennessee (Are they shipping via FedEx? Memphis is their main hub). Best of luck getting the car up and running, folks.

The Malaysians working on their car
A view of the shelf for Lodz's aux array.
Very clean charging port on UNSW's car 
Persian Gazelle testing on the track
CUER out on the track 

CUER must have made some big improvements or fixed a big problem today - when the car pulled off the track at the end of their session, the team seemed pretty ecstatic - I could see Keno almost skipping with joy over to the car.
CUER's spare array covers. 
More cells on the tail of Evolution
Michigan team meeting

That's all I have for today! We have one more day of scheduled static inspections tomorrow with these teams, and then Friday is open to allow for re-inspections as needed. Saturday is dynamic inspection out at Hidden Valley, and then it's race time Sunday morning!


  1. Regarding Twente signage. Technically speaking the rules dont specifically say front of the car, only leading edge. Isnt where they mounted it on a leading edge?
    The definition of a leading edge is "the foremost edge of an aerofoil", the canopy can be seen as its own airfoil within the car. Thus making it legal?
    How else could they solve this issue with their solar array already being installed? A time penalty?

    1. I'll quote the rule again, bolding for emphasis: Solar EVs must have an unbroken front signage area, 600 × 150 mm, at the front of the Solar EV. The Event logo; name of the Entrant; name of the Team and the name of the car should be placed at the leading edge.

      So yes, the rules do specifically say the front of the car.

      If I were the officials, I'd get some red vinyl, slap it over the front row of solar cells, and designate that as the signage area. Tough titties. Then hand them a time penalty for wasting our time.

      There were a lot of shenanigans about the required signage in 2013, and the officials made it VERY clear in the rules for 2015 what was expected this year.

    2. What were Twente thinking? They have been so careful about everything else. I can only assume that something got lost in translation.

    3. Maybe they're counting on stretching the exact meaning of "at the front of the solar EV" to "well, it's in front of the half way mark, innit?". A couple of teams stretched the signage regulations in a similar way in 2013.

      Personally I wouldn't have take that gamble myself after all the fuss it caused last time. We'll have to see what happens.

      Completely unrelated; I think the shiny helmets make them look like the Pet Shop Boys. I like the PSBs :)

    4. I can't imagine they "forgot" because they had the exact space reserved on Red One before as can be seen in pics just after unveiling and even while they were driving Cox Peninsula Road. They really want to win this time and are pushing it to (or beyond) the limits.

    5. It will be tough on Twente if they are penalised for breaking the signage rules. After all they were beaten last time by two cars that blatantly ignored the visibility rules and got away with it.
      Interesting to think that if Nuon and Tokai had been given penalties for that we might not have 20 or so asymmetric catamarans this time. Instead the WSC changed their rules to accommodate the cars that had been made.

      I've no problem with teams being made to stick to the rules but the judges need to be consistent. As I understand it the other teams might mutter about other teams infringing the rules but they do not tend to go as far as lodging a protest. I don't blame them for that, it's a friendly sport, but the judges should not need a protest to take action.

      Personally, I think that the signage rules are ridiculous. These are supposed to be cutting edge design vehicles. There should be rules limiting what can be used on the cars and rules covering safety but the shape of the car should not be restricted by the need to place an advertisement.
      Fair enough, say that there needs to be space for signage but not where it should be.


    6. Erik - thanks for reminding me that Twente's car, when initially shown, had that nice little space on the front corner for the necessary signage - see the entry on them in this blog's first post. I guess something happened during their array manufacturing and they had to scramble to find a "creative" way around the rules.

      Nigel: Consistency is definitely a problem at WSC - something that I personally gripe about a lot. A lot of success at WSC is knowing which rules can be skirted and which rules aren't inspected. However, the signage rules are not ridiculous, nor are they driven by the need for "advertisement". Only 1/4 of the front signage contains WSC-supplied logos, the rest is reserved for the team name, car name, etc. In the past WSC has not specified where signage should be, and it has ended up on the underside of cars.

    7. It's a fair point about signage being on the underside, obviously that's not sensible, but as long as it's visible somewhere on the top of the car I really don't see that it needs to be in any one particular place. It's not as if the cars are always photographed from the front if that is the concern. If the concern is that someone seeing a solar car might not realise that it is in the WSC then that is a failing of the competition, not the team.

    8. Everything I've heard indicated Twente got the signage approved without too much fuss. Hmf. I know the signage is a small deal compared to a lot of other things (and at least Twente's signage is highly visible and the right size, if not in the right place), but it's the principle of the thing.

      I do still wonder about the array, though. The array on the car right now is precisely the same shape as the blacked-out placeholder, except for the front corner. I wonder if they were planning for a fully-cut-cell array, and didn't manage to get enough in time.

    9. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely agree about the principle. In Abu Dhabi my favourite team was Principia because they were the first team home with no penalties.

      The problem is that the organizers have made a rod for their own backs by not enforcing rules more rigidly in the past.


  2. Fantastic blog post, as always!

    In addition to the cars you mention, Bochum and Punch have made blog posts indicating that they also passed. Punch even showed the world a set of green stickers.

    Twente posted a sweet infographic of their car, in the blog post you mentioned.

    IIRC, the single-motor thing for NWU came up in the SASOL challenge, especially in regards to hills. It will be interesting to see how the single-motor cars perform up Hayes Creek Hill.

    -- Tony

    1. Thanks! I try my best.

      Good to know about Bochum and Punch. WSC's site is clearly a little out of date, it doesn't even have a status at all listed for Minnesota, Solaris, or Kookmin - all who were inspected today.

  3. Great coverage with interesting views on the specials of the various cars! I am soooo curious to see how all the preparations of all the teams are going to work out in the actual race.

  4. Excellent post, love all the photos.

  5. Great post. Ive seen on your twitter (and scientific gems) that youve posted a table with the different inspection points and teams, with green or red circles indicating if they have passed or failed. But its really hard to read the different inspection points on the top row. Could you please post a better quality photo cause Im really curious to see what teams have passed and failed. Thanks so much in advance

    1. It would actually be really cool if you could briefly outline what happens in every station as well. This is the best website for WSC updates, far better than the race organisers themselves. You're the best!!!

    2. Good question! From left to right, the columns are: Registration, Decals, Measurement, Ballast, Mechanical 1, Mechanical 2, Mechanical 3, Electrical, Battery, MVR, Trackers, Support Vehicles, UHV Channel Allocation, and Satellite Phone Number. I'll try to get an up to date photo this morning, and I'll definitely post about what each station is (dang, I should have done that Tuesday)

    3. If you look at the latest blog from Punch you can see the headings very clearly. They do not however give details of the checks.


  6. On this photo (by Keno) you can see the statuses and juuust make out the team names: