Thursday, September 21, 2017

WSC 2017 Update: September 21st

Poking around on recently, I came across the "Top Ten Lies Told by Solar Car Teams" on the old Sunrayce website. Aaaand... Yep, 20 years later, I think the list is still pretty much right.

I also ran across this interesting Japanese website and accompanying Facebook page. The author noticed that Punch's car clearly couldn't fit a 4sqm silicon array at the time of unveiling (about a month and a half before I noticed), and had some interesting thoughts about Twente when they unveiled.

Scientific Gems has made two posts (1, 2) about Cruiser scoring this year - go check them out. Watch this space for a post about the Cruiser cars (and a little bit about scoring) early next week.

Location updates

In Darwin

  • Nuon, Punch, Twente, Blue Sky have all been in Darwin with their cars for over a week.  Nuon just received their battery
  • Eindhoven received their car and finally their battery. 
  • JU and Sonnenwagen Achen have both recently arrived and received their cars.
  • MDH team members are on the ground in Darwin, but no car yet.
  • Durham's advance team recently arrived in Darwin.
  • RVCE's car has cleared customs, and the team will arrive on Monday.

In the Outback

  • WSU, Stanford, Kogakuin, and Bochum are all testing/mock racing near Coober Pedy. We heard some very vague rumors about an incident with Kogakuin's car late on Wednesday the 20th.
  • Principia is somewhere in the middle of the outback - I think they're just trailering north rather than test driving.
  • UNSW is heading north, although I'm not sure if they're doing a test drive or on a trailer.
  • A reader has sent us some photos of Goko testing in the outback.

In South/East Australia

  • Michigan completed their mock race, and I believe they have returned to their base in Adelaide rather than continue north to Darwin (I could be wrong on this, however).
  • PrISUm is in Adeliade, preparing to drive north for some outback testing on the way to Darwin.
  • CUER has finally received Mirage in Adelaide after a lengthy delay at customs and quarantine in Melbourne.
  • Minnesota is still in Melbourne, waiting for the rest of the team to arrive and getting their car prepared to head north.
  • The Illini team has arrived in Melbourne and expect to pick their car up soon.
  • Portions of the ITU team are in Sydney and the car is waiting to clear customs in Melbourne.
  • Australian teams: Adelaide University hasn't posted anything about departing north to Darwin yet. ANU is still in Canberra, Flinders and TAFE SA have just recently unveiled and are still in Adelaide, and Team Arrow is still in Brisbane.
  • Antakari are evidently in Australia somewhere, perhaps Sydney.

Not yet in Australia

  • Shipped but not much other news: NIT, NWU, UiTM, Kookmin, SunSPEC, Lodz, Siam Tech, Apollo.
  • Uncertain if shipped, but completed car: Tokai, Neul-Hae-Rang, Mississippi Choctaw.
  • Shipped an incomplete car: Tehran.

Challenger Class

2: University of Michigan

Status: Team and car in Australia.

The team performed a mock race in the outback between September 9th and 15th, and it seems to have been a success. The team posted a bunch of photos to Flickr. A Facebook post states they have "returned", so I think they've backtracked to Adelaide rather than continued north to Darwin?

3: Nuon

Status: Team and car in Darwin!

The car has been in Australia for a while, and the team has finally received their battery, along with Eindhoven's. It looks like there's a fair amount of assembly yet to do.

4: Antakari

Status: Shipped. Antakari shipped Intikallpa IV to Australia on September 10th.

Apparently WSC has contact the WSC officials from Sydney at some point.

7: Adelaide University

Status: Unveiled. The team unveiled Lumen II on August 29th.

No news since then.

8: Punch Powertrain

Status: Team and car in Darwin!

Punch has started test driving at a local airstrip, which sounds like an adventure as the airstrip is apparently still active... Note Punch still hasn't put the real solar array on the top of the car and is using the fake/camouflage solar array to cover the top during test drive.

Interestingly, although the steel tube structure around the driver's head that I talked about here was indeed a temporary item, you can see in some photos that it has been replaced with a carbon element rather than omitted entirely. It's good to see some teams start to think about protecting the driver's head from front impacts.

10: Tokai

Status: Unveiled. The team unveiled the 2017 Tokai Challenger on August 29th.

I've seen it before, but I ran across Hideki Kimura's personal website again. He's posted a lot of detail of Tokai's 2017 car, including a very interesting photo of a catamaran design that it was evaluated against:

"Type A" Catamaran
"Type B" Monohull

Note that in the catamaran concept, the array didn't stick out sideways from the wheel fairings - very reminiscent of Nuon or NIT.

12: Cambridge University

Status: Team and car in Adelaide.

CUER has started their WSC 2017 blog.

After nearly a week of unexpected delays in customs and quarantine inspection, CUER has finally received Mirage. It sounds like the team still has a fair amount of work to do on the car... You can see the chassis and lower starting at 0:06 in this unpacking video.

15: WSU

Status: Testing in the outback near Coober Pedy.

WSU has spent the past week in the outback, testing Unlimited 2.0. They've been having fun with Bochum, and Stanford as well:

Dang, I miss the outback.

16: Stanford

Status: Testing in the outback near Coober Pedy.

Stanford has also been posting a few photos from their outback mock race, with a Bochum cameo included.

18: UiTM EcoPhoton

Status: Shipped. The team unveiled TUAH on September 9th, and shipped it to Australia on September 20th.

No other news this week.

20: Durham

Status: Car shipped, advance team in Darwin.

Durham shipped their car to Australia on July 18th. The advance team touched down in Darwin today, and the core team has already departed the UK.

21: Twente

Status: Team and car in Darwin!

A local Darwin news station shot a video with the team.

Of interest, there are some good detail shots of the inside of the car. I'm really not sure what was worth blurring out in their old video, I didn't see anything super secret... but maybe I'm just not looking right. I do see some curiously asymmetric bulkheads in the front of the car around 6 seconds in, but I suspect that's just for clearance around the members used to normalize the array. We can also see a cable/capstan steering mechanism, as seen on their 2015 car (and Punch's 2017 entry). The front suspension is a normal double-A-Arm, and it uses trailing arm suspension in the rear. If I'm not mistaken, it's a non-Akerman steering geometry up front...

The team also posted blogs on aerodynamics and structure.

22: MDH

Status: Team in Darwin, car shipped. 

The team shipped the car to Australia on September 11th. Team members have arrived in Darwin, although the car has not.

25: Nagoya Institute of Technology

Status: Shipped. NIT shipped Horizon 17 to Australia on August 9th.

I believe the team is preparing to depart.

28: Neul-Hae-Rang

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

No news since then.

32: Principia

Status: Team and car in the outback.

Principia is somewhere out in the middle of the outback. I believe they're bringing Ra X straight to Darwin on a trailer, rather than doing a mock race type testing event.

34: RVCE

Status: Car in Australia, team to follow soon.

The team says their crate has cleared customs, and the team will join it on Monday the 25th.

37: Goko High School

Status: Team and car in the outback.

A reader has sent us some photos of Goko testing in the outback.

If you poke back through the other photos, it looks like Goko had a front right suspension failure during testing at Suzuka around June 26th or 27th...

38: NWU

Status: Shipped. The team unveiled Naledi on August 22nd, and shipped it sometime around August 30th.

No news this week.

43: Australia National University

Status: Unveiled. 

The team unveiled their car on September 19th, and it's pretty clear that the team still has a ways to go before they have a functional car. I foresee many more sleepless nights between now and October 8th...

46: Jonkoping University

Status: Team and car in Darwin!

The Sonnenwagen team spotted Solveig's crate in Darwin on Friday, and JU said they'd be picking it up this past Monday. The team had some delays getting to Australia, but has finally arrived and picked up their car.

Sounds like the team is having fun.

70: Sonnenwagen Aachen

Status: Team and car in Darwin!

The team recently received their car and has started unpacking in Darwin.

71: Istanbul Technical University

Status: Part of the team in Sydney, car on the ground in Melbourne(?)

A portion of the team is currently in Sydney, and the rest of the team will arrive on the 27th. The team carried parts of their battery in their checked luggage - you can carry up to two batteries in checked luggage, each under 100Wh, so a typical solar car battery would need to be split into around 25 individual portions to be "shipped" this way.

It sounds like the car may be on Australia soil already, waiting to clear customs in Melbourne. Hopefully it clears faster than CUER's car did!

77: Blue Sky

Status: Team and car in Darwin!

The team has passed safety inspection and will be testing on the road very soon.

82: Kookmin University

Status: Shipped. The team shipped Taegeuk to Australia at the end of July.

No news since then.

88: Kogakuin University

Status: Testing in the outback near Coober Pedy.

The team departed north from Adelaide on the 18th, and plans to arrive in Darwin on the 25th.

They've been posting tons of photos and a video to Twitter, as well as a video on Facebook and a blog post.

We heard a rumor through the Bochum-Stanford-WSU grapevine that Kogakuin may have had an accident late on the 20th. The last time they posted to Twitter was around 3:47pm on the 20th, Coober Pedy time, and after two busy days of social media, the team was silent throughout 21st. Internet access is really spotty in the outback, but I don't think sudden silence + crash rumors is a good sign.

Cruiser Class

5: SunSPEC

Status: Car shipped, some team members in Australia.

SunSPEC 5 was shipped to Darwin on September 5th, and a portion of the team departed for Adelaide on the 19th. I assume they're picking up rental vehicles in Adelaide and road tripping up to meet the car in Darwin (round-trip rentals are generally cheaper than one-way).

9: PrISUm

Status: Team and car in Adelaide, preparing to head north.

PrISUm unloaded Penumbra into a workspace in Adelaide early this week. They've visited Victoria Square with the car and met with WSC officials, and are preparing for a 7-day test in the outback around Coober Pedy.

11: Hochschule Bochum

Status: Testing in the outback near Coober Pedy.

After some shipping drama, Blue.Cruiser finally arrived in Coober Pedy about a week ago. After some preparation and inspection, the team started driving a few days ago. They've published a great video overview of the past week.

14: Flinders

Status: Unveiled. The team unveiled Investigator Mark III on September 11th.

I believe the team is preparing to leave for Darwin extremely soon.

23: University of Tehran

Status: Shipped an incomplete car.

In a comment on the WSC discussion group on Facebook, a member from Tehran stated that the car was shipped in an incomplete state, and the team intends to meet it in Darwin on September 28th.

This is the most-complete photo of the car that they have posted. If that's really the current state of the car, they have an absolutely massive amount of work to complete in the few days before inspection starts...

30: Team Arrow

Status: Unveiled!

With about one day's notice, Team Arrow unveiled Arrow STF today. There's a good video here.

(image source)

It's a two seater with a cut silicon array. My first impression is that it looks like a much more refined version of UNSW's eVe, and that it looks like it would have done really well in 2013 or 2015, but I'm a little dubious of how high 2-seaters will score under the 2017 Cruiser regulations.

35: IVE Sophie

Status: Shipped. IVE shipped Sophie VI out to Australia on August 28th.

No news this week.

40: Eindhoven

Status: Team, car, and batteries all in Darwin!

Eindhoven finally received both the car and their batteries in Darwin at the start of the week. Look at how happy they look! This has to be a huge relief for them. No time to rest, though...


Status: Unveiled!

TAFE SA unveiled their "Solar Articulated Vehicle" yesterday.

(image source)
Interesting door mechanism
(image source)
Cargo area in the back; almost a solar 'ute
(image source)

45: Lodz

Status: Shipped. The team shipped Eagle Two to Australia on July 17th.

Lodz has been doing some team bonding. No news on the car - last we heard, it had made it to Singapore around the end of August.

49: Siam Tech

Status: Car shipped, team to depart soon. 

Siam Tech shipped Nikola on September 6th. The team should be departing extremely soon.

75: UNSW Sunswift

Status: Unveiled, heading north. 

Due to an accident while testing, the team delayed unveiling from September 14th to the 22nd. However, it sounds like repairs went quicker than expected and the team elected to stick to their original schedule and depart on Wednesday, rather than sticking around until the new Friday unveiling.

The team posted a video of some track testing. As expected from the teaser images, Violet is a long, sleek, 4-door, 4-seat car:

(image source, 0:55)

This article also has some decent photos and information. Note that they claim it has fucntional air conditioning...

94: University of Minnesota

Status: Car and partial team in Melbourne.

Some team members have been in Melbourne for a few days, and they are preparing Eos II for the drive north to Adelaide while waiting for the rest of the team to arrive.

The team posted an album of motor construction photos to Flickr.

95: Apollo

Status: Shipped. The team shipped Apollo VIII to Adelaide on August 23rd.

The team appears to be preparing to depart.

Adventure Class

52: Illini Solar Car

Status: Team in Melbourne, car waiting to clear customs.

Most of the team has arrived in Melbourne, and they expect to pick up Argo soon.

53: Mississippi Choctaw High School

No news this week.


  1. Goko testing in the Outback

  2. Tafe have really missed a trick there. Eight more seats in the back and they'd have walked away with the prize.


    1. Extra seats don't come free. Weight matters! And over 5 seats, you're past the weight rating on the Bridgestone/Michelin solar car tires and have to step up to something like BMW i3 tires, which are much less efficient.

    2. With unlimited batteries none of that really matters. I think that was the idea of the Columbian team with their 12 seat bus. As long as they could do it with just under 240% of the energy use of Eindhoven it's in the bag.

      Cruiser class is no longer a real competition, at least not for the whole field.


    3. Batteries don't weigh nothing either. Weight isn't a *huge* factor for challenger class cars, but each person is like 60% the weight of an entire challenger car! Plus the extra batteries, plus the extra structural mass needed. Increasing the number of people in the vehicle start to having diminishing returns in terms of score pretty quickly.

      THEN factor in that as you add more people, you start to have to make aerodynamic compromises (hard to fit all those people within the 5m x 2.2m planform and still have adequate opening and closing shapes).

      THEN factor in that you can fit only 5, maybe 6 people before moving away from hyper-efficient solar car tires to real car tire (and as you now have >>1000lbs in people alone, your total vehicle mass is HUGE and rolling resistance matters), so going to real car tires results in a massive step down in efficiency. Assuming WSC enforces tire weight ratings, it's absolutely not worth it to build for more than 5 or 6 people.

      Of COURSE it's still a competition. You can't just (literally) throw people at the problem; minimizing energy per person is a real challenge.

    4. Forgetting about introducing buses to the competition, do you anticipate that the removal of the speed element will allow a two seater to do the entire distance without recharging?

      We thought that Kogakuin might have been able to last time but that was almost a challenger type car.

      My guess would be that any re-charge for a smaller car rules them out of a win(assuming 12 - 16 kw/h batteries). I'm also assuming that STE and Lodz didn't put the extra seats in for show and intend to use them for the majority of the journey.

      Therefore they will amass 15000+ kilometres - 2.5 times the maximum possible in a two seat car.
      Eindhoven's spiel says that the car will do 1000km on a single charge(in Holland) indicating that they will re-charge twice at most.

      Bearing in mind that in 2015 only one of the smaller cars really made the finish(just) with two charges then I still suggest that a two seater has zero chance.

      I would love to be proved wrong, with the exception of the TAFE car I hate the big cars, but I doubt that I will.

  3. posted this on the wrong post. but TAFE SA's ute is amazing, bogan af

  4. Love the Solar Car lies but surely they missed the biggest one of the lot.
    "All of the other teams have multi-million dollar budgets so we are the under-dogs"

    Or perhaps that's a more recent lie?


  5. For what it's worth I think that cutting out the race element from the Cruiser class makes it a lot less interesting. Following their markers/trackers on the maps will now only be a matter of confirmation that the cars are still in one piece and safe to make it to Adelaide.
    And it is also a missed opportunity. Electrical cars have only become more popular since Tesla came up with their faster and sportier cars. So a race does not have to work against the design and build of a solar family car with practical features also being judged.
    I hope WSC will be a race again for Cruisers in 2019.


    1. I'll agree with that. The ideal strategy is going to be to drive exactly the speed necessary to cross the finish line within the tight arrival window, so all of the Cruiser cars are going to be bunched very tightly together on the route.

      It'll be impossible to tell who's "in the lead" unless WSC publishes stuff like the battery capacity of each car, how many people arrived in each car at each checkpoint, and how many times each team has charged as the competition progresses.

    2. I know that WSC staff held a meeting a while back to discuss how to make the Cruiser class more easy to follow. I suggested that making battery sizes available before the race was pretty crucial as without that there is absolutely no chance to know where teams might stand.

      We can only wait and see whether they have taken these comments on board. I'm doubtful as to whether they are capable of posting the other data from during the race.

      It would be good for all classes, although less relevant for the Cruisers, if complete Control Stop timings were posted. This would make much more sense than the previous system of only publishing each teams last stop on each day.


  6. Michigans body doesn't seem to be as refined as other teams (especially Dutch/European teams). Carbon work not as detailed, gaps and junctions seem larger then they should be. What do you think based on facebook/flickr photos?

    1. I have noticed that the gap between the upper and body of their car is smaller on their race upper than their show upper. It seems to be a trimming issue on the first part.

    2. Yep, Michigan historically (at least for the past decade) makes two uppers and only puts the array on the good one. Given the nature of how these cars are made, each part ends up a little unique...

      It's a little frustrating that Michigan hasn't posted any good photos of *the car* yet. It's all closeups of people working on the car, weird angles in the shop with shit in the background, or cell phone photos in poor lighting at unveiling.

      Even the photos from their recent mock race - it's all array standing photos, the only photos they posted of the assembled car were awkward closeups or with the mock upper on it:

  7. We have seen how a number of teams have developed mechanisms to tilt their arrays outside race hours. I am curious to see how especially the Cruisers have organised this. Maybe something to include in your upcoming Cruiser special?

    1. The mechanisms are actually more in response to the checkpoint rules, which only allow the driver of the solar car to reconfigure the car for charging (see reg 3.26.4 through 3.26.9). Any team that hasn't designed a quick and easy array lift mechanism is going to be giving up a lot of time and/or energy over the course of the race.

      Of course, it makes morning and evening charging much simpler as well...

      I assume the Cruiser cars will have similar mechanisms, as the "only the driver may reconfigure the array at checkpoints" rules apply to them as well.