Thursday, July 27, 2017

WSC 2017 Update: July 27th

The official list is down to 45 teams: St. Petersburg Polytechnic University disappeared off the list this week.

Challenger Class

Status: Unveiled! Michigan unveiled Novum on July 7th.

Michigan is presumably out doing their mock race right now (blue tape! Blasphemy!). I saw some photos from them on Flickr earlier this week, but they've since been taken down. I dug through my browser's cache to find them, and I'm not sure what the big deal was? Your front wheel fairings aren't *that* much of a secret, folks.

Status: Unveiled! This is the big news for the week, the 6-time winners and returning champions unveiled Nuna 9 on July 25th.

Nuna 9
(image source)

At first glance, it doesn't look all that different from what we've seen from other teams: a fairly straight-forward evolution of the asymmetric catamaran design to the smaller planform. It shares a lot of design features in common with Punch's new car, and even goes a step further - in addition to eliminating the front overhang, Nuon has eliminated the rear overhangs as well. The horizontal trailing edge of the array blends cleanly and smoothly straight into the vertical trailing edges of the wheel fairings. Quality of the car, as expected, appears extremely high. The body seams are exemplary - I have to look reeeally hard to see the seams around the array, canopy, and wheels.

But wait... I know the Dutch are tall, but those students look like giants next to the car. And what are those solar cells...?

Yep: those are multi-junction solar cells, and that is a 2.64sqm array - just like Michigan, but on a different form factor of car. This is a tiny catamaran! This article has a video with some shots from unveiling, including Nuna 9 next to Nuna 8, starting at 0:43:

Nuna 8 and Nuna 9
(image source at 0:43)

Daaaaang that is small! Nuna 8 is 4.5m long x 1.8m wide; It's hard to judge precisely from this screenshot but I would say that Nuna 9 is absolutely no larger than 3.5m long x 1.6m wide.

Nuna 9 and Michigan's Novum are going to look so silly next to each other - completely different proportions.

Some Dutch news websites have published videos of the car driving already, and some other details can be teased out. In this video, you can see the swingarm rear suspension and double-A-arm up front - the same layout as Nuna 8. At 0:37, you can also see how they will have the driver normalize the array: the array is on a 4-bar linkage, and there is a telescoping carbon tube located next to the driver.

The team posted a video of some CAD flyaround - you can see how nicely the array in blended into the all sides of the wheel fairings, and how narrow the non-drive-side fairing is. You can see in this photo how smooth that rear blend is on the real car, as well as a full 3D printed trailing edge/taillight diffuser - just like on Nuna 8 two years ago.

I did some napkin math a little while ago with some other alumni, and we concluded that a multi-junction array was the clear way to go. With the new sizing rules, the array power is comparable to a silicon array when you look at raw efficiency numbers. But a multi-junction array may actually be significantly more powerful than silicon when you factor in the better performance in heat - especially with the new "no coolant spraying" rule! And a smaller car is lighter and more aerodynamic. More power, less weight, less drag - win win win, with cost/availability being the only downside. Honestly, I'm a little surprised we've only seen two teams switch to multi-junction arrays...

Nuna 9 is an incredibly hot little car, and I can't wait to see how it performs. Good luck to Nuon!

4: Antakari

More car construction videos and photos continue to be posted on their Facebook and Instagram - it looks like they've just bonded the composite chassis into the lower shell. Also note that they have received their solar array from Gochermann.

6: MIT

Status: Not Attending.

MIT confirmed that their removal from WSC teams list last week was not a mistake; they're out of the race. That said, I'm a little confused - the team has broken radio silence on social media after their withdrawal announcement, posting photos of the car at a wind tunnel in late February and the chassis driving around in early June. It seems like the team was well on schedule, which doesn't jibe with the statement "...we decided that there was simply not enough time to properly test and prepare ourselves for the race..."


7: Adelaide University

No updates of note in the past week.

8: Punch Powertrain

Status: Unveiled! Punch unveiled Punch Two on June 21st. It will ship for Australia around August 20th.

Not much to note this week. Is this your cat?

10: Tokai

Still no word on Tokai's car, or when it will be unveiled. This is the only big Challenger team that is yet to release any details on their car - all of the other Challenger teams that have yet to unveil have at least released a rendering or profile shot of the car (other than the rookie Proton team).

No updates this week.

13: Polytech Solar

This new team from Russia is no longer listed on the official WSC teams list :(

No updates from the team's social media about this.  EDIT 7/30: This VK Post cites financial difficulties, and announces that they will attempt to enter the 2018 American Solar Challenge instead.

15: WSU

Status: Unveiling scheduled. WSU announced an official unveiling date: August 29th.

This week, the team is prepping the car for paint.

16: Stanford

Status: Unveiled! Stanford unveiled Sundae on July 1st.

The team recently posted a great video showing a ton of details on the construction of the car. It's eleven and a half minutes long, but it's worth watching the entire thing.

They've also posted a few photos to Instagram showing battery construction progress.

18: UiTM EcoPhoton

Today the team posted a picture of... cosmetically copying a portion of Nuon's old front suspension? Uhhh... huh.

20: Durham

Status: Shipped! Durham shipped their car to Australia on July 18th.

No updates since then.

21: Twente

Status: Unveiled! Twente unveiled Red Shift on June 23rd.

Twente has been busy testing and characterizing the performance of their new car. They also posted the first video of it driving.

22: MDH

Status: Unveiled! The team unveiled way back on May 31st.

No noteworthy updates in the past week.

25: Nagoya Institute of Technology

Status: Unveiled! No formal unveiling event, but the car was shown testing at Bridgestone's test track on July 15th.

No news directly from the team this week, but Bridgestone posted a little about the testing NIT and Kogakuin did.

28: Neul-Hae-Rang

Status: Unveiled! The team unveiled Woong-bi on June 25th.

The team posted a sideways video of their unveiling to Facebook. Form what little I can see, it looks pretty much exactly like the rendering on their WSC team profile.

29: Siam Tech (Edison)

The team posted some more construction photos to Facebook.

32: Principia

Status: Unveiled! There wasn't a formal unveiling event, but the team took Ra X to Formula Sun in Texas, July 3-8.

No updates from the team this week.

34: RVCE

No updates from the team this week.

37: Goko High School

No social media links, so no updates. The car appears to be finished.

38: North-West University

Status: Unveiling scheduled. Public unveiling of Naledi is scheduled for August 22nd.

Interestingly, the team has designed a 3D printed structure for holding their battery cells within the pack, and is attempting to crowdsource the printing of the parts. They've also open-sourced the parts on Thingiverse.

43: Australia National University

No updates from the team this week.

46: Jonkoping University

Status: Unveiling scheduled. The team has announced on Facebook and Instagram that Solveig will be unveiled on August 28th.

Not much news this week - they've been posted a lot of sponsor appreciation posts on their blog. The post about their chassis is a little interesting, however - the new car uses a steel tube frame, whereas their previous car was a composite chassis. The post touches on a lot of points that I often try to make with new teams. The big one: Carbon fiber does not automatically make your car lighter. They also make an interesting point about how decoupling the chassis and aeroshell allows for earlier testing of the electrical system on a driving chassis. My old team used to strap the new electronics to an old car for early testing, but that isn't something that a new team can do.

70: Sonnenwagen Aachen

Status: Unveiled! The team unveiled Huawei Sonnenwagen on July 20th.

This news story has a pretty good video, including several good shots of the inside and outside of the car.

71: Istanbul Technical University

The team posted a very brief video of what appears to be the chassis driving around a parking lot at night.

72: Proton

The team posted a link to a news story on their Facebook. Translating, it sounds like the design is mostly finished, but the team has not yet begun manufacturing and is still looking for sponsors.

The team's profile on the WSC site is still completely blank. This is the only Challenger team (other than Tokai) that has not yet even posted the smallest image of what their car will look like.

77: Blue Sky

No updates this week. The last updates from the team were of body construction in over late May.

82: Kookmin University

Status: Unveiled! Kookmin unveiled Taegeuk on July 7th.

No updates since then.

88: Kogakuin University

Status: Unveiled! Kogakuin unveiled Wing on June 29th.

Kogakuin was featured in the Bridgestone post alongside NIT.

I think I figured out one of reasons for the weird high-trail front steering - if you look at this photo, you can see that due to how far forward the wheels are within the nose of the car, there's much more space at the rear part of the wheel well than the forward part. By shifting the steering axis forward relative to the centerline of the wheel, the wheels fit into the nose better and they are able to keep the wheelbase longer and the track width wider.

The team also posted a photo of their rear suspension:

(image source)

This was completely unexpected to me: A rigid tube axle on a multilink setup with a single shock. Wild. I was wondering what those big gold cones in their teardown photo were all about...

Cruiser Class

5: SunSPEC

Status: Unveiled! Singapore Polytechnic unveiled SunSPEC 5 on July 21st.

No news from the team since then.

9: PrISUm

Status: Unveiled! Iowa State unveiled Penumbra on June 2nd.

No major news in the past week. The team recently took off to Michigan, continuing on their sponsor tour.

Status: Shipped! Unveiled! The team unveiled Blue.Cruiser on July 5th.

I thought they shipped the car out, but I guess it was just supplies - and a large lithium battery pack, as you can see by the warning label on the big metal box:

Big ol' Cruiser battery pack.
(image source)

The team has been out testing their car, and posted some more photos. I really love the front end of this car - it looks really aggressive, especially from the side. Some interesting stuff to note in the photo below:

(image source)

First, what's up with those little circles underneath the back corner of the light, and up at the front? They really looks like the ultrasonic parking sensors that you see on the rear bumpers of production cars.

Second, while those wheels look cool and all, I really hope they put some disc hubcaps over them for the race, like they did with SunRiser.

Third, is that a small tunnel I spy under the car? I'd love to get a front-on shot of the car. This car keeps reminding me of Minnesota's 2013 car...

Finally, one last photo, newly posted to their WSC team profile:

(image source)

A great side profile shot which really shows how long the cockpit is. It definitely makes sense as a 4-seater from this perspective, although I don't know why they couldn't give the back seat passengers some longer windows...

14: Flinders

No updates this week.

23: University of Tehran

The team posted a whole bunch of industrial design sketches to Instagram this week.

More importantly, they also posted a video with a few very short shots with parts of a new car in the background and a picture of some team members working on electronics.

30: Team Arrow

No updates this week.

33: Cairo University

No updates this week.

35: IVE Sophie

Status: Unveiled! IVE unveiled Sophie VI on July 1st.

No updates this week.

40: Eindhoven

Status: Unveiled! Eindhoven unveiled Stella Vie on June 21st.

No updates this week.


No updates this week.

45: Lodz

Status: Unveiled, and Shipped! Lodz unveiled Eagle Two on July 14th, and shipped to Australia on July 17th.

No updates this week.

The team keeps posting construction photos and videos to Facebook and Twitter. Notably, the suspension is installed on the chassis and the motors spin!

75: UNSW Sunswift

The team posted a small batch of construction progress photos to Facebook at the start of the week. We don't expect an unveiling until September.

94: University of Minnesota

Status: Unveiled! Minnesota unveiled Eos II on July 11th.

No news in the past week.

Status: Unveiled! KUAS unveiled Apollo VIII on June 29th.

The team posted a link to a news video about the team. There is a lot of footage of older cars, but some shots of their new Cruiser car. Particularly interesting, at 8:04, you can see that the car currently has a single motor - a Mitsuba at the left rear.

Also, that's a lot of batteries. I count 40 boxes, each with 30 cells in them. Assuming the loose cells came out of the close boxes at the upper right, that's 1200 cells. That many Panasonic 18650 cells is roughly 58kg of batteries! And who knows how many more boxes are out of frame?

Adventure Class

52: Illini Solar Car

The team posted a brake test video, a new photo of their chassis (looks clean!), and a photo of the topshell going on the car.

53: Mississippi Choctaw High School

Thanks to ScientificGems for pointing out their website:

No news this week.


  1. The new Bochum car reminds me of some of the old Citroen DS models


  2. Nuon have stated they will have 3 female drivers because the men are too big for Nuna9. Girlpower!

  3. Polytech's latest VK post blames financial problems for their withdrawal. And they promise to take the current car to ASC18 and a new car to WSC19.

  4. You forgot Punch in the list of teams switching to GaAs. Though they covered it up nicely by placing temporary Si on their car, their car will definitely not fit a 4sqm panel ;)

    1. Aha, sneaky sneaky... You're right! I went back and counted the number of cells on the car, and it's waaaaaay less than the 260 Sunpower E60 cells that you would find on a 4sqm array.