WSC… Then and Now
What happens every two years in the middle of October in the Australian outback? The World Solar Challenge! On October 6th, 2013, the University of Michigan Solar Car Team will compete in this 3,000 kilometer (about 1,800 miles) journey from Darwin to Adelaide, Australia. The challenge is inspired by ideas of sustainability, and using the most widely available energy source in the world: the sun! The solar vehicles entering the competition have to complete the journey with only 5000 kW hours of stored energy, a mere 10% that of a typical automobile.
For more information check out the WSC website: http://www.worldsolarchallenge.org/about_wsc/overview
Traveling 3,000 kilometers in the Australian Outback is an adventurous task. It makes sense, then, that the idea came from the first man to circumnavigate the Australian continent, Hans Tholstrup. With the help of BP, Tholstrup traveled more than 2,000 kilometers within 20 days in “The Quiet Achiever”. The success of his trek across Australia inspired him to found the World Solar Challenge in 1987.
[For more information on Hans Tholstrup, check out our previous blog post: http://solarcar.engin.umich.edu/2011/01/3251/]
Currently the World Solar Challenge is held biannually, and more than 20 participating teams from over 10 countries are represented. The first race was in 1987; GM’s Sunraycer won first place with an average speed of 40 mph. Compare that to recent speeds of up to and over 60 mph! Since 1990, the University of Michigan Solar Car Team has been a proud competitor, winning third place five times over the course of our history.
For more information on our WSC history, visit our website www.umsolar.com or visit our wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Michigan_Solar_Car_Team
What’s next for WSC? Regulations placed by the competition are changing. To be able to compete in WSC 2013, teams will need to produce a four-wheeled car and have an upright driver. Compare these design constraints to those of our previous car, Quantum, which had a reclined driver and only three wheels. These regulations are pushing teams to the edge, and revolutionizing solar vehicle design to new limits. As this competition changes our team is forced to grow and adjust to unprecedented design challenges. It makes sense that the regulations would have to be changed to keep the name “The World Solar Challenge.”
(Check out further regulation comments in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=B5FWZPxqwoo&list=UUUNSvCvjMpwhyjvNt3rpJFw)
Wondering how the environment has affected the development of cars? Check out last week’s blog post: http://solarcar.engin.umich.edu/2012/11/from-horses-to-the-sun/. Follow us on our Twitter page @umsolarcarteam or on Facebook for daily updates on everything UMSolar!
Oh and don’t forget…. stay sunny!