The Race Crew is arriving back in the States and Continuum has completed around 1/3 of it’s 1.5 month journey back to the US. Continuum will make a brief stop for an event in LA before being transported back home to Ann Arbor, MI. The Team is busy preparing for the 2008 North American International Auto Show where Continuum will sit on display between the 19th and 27th of January. We’ve gathered an amazing amount of pictures from our journey across the Outback and, thanks to continued work with RCom Networks, we’ll be releasing another documentary about The University of Michigan Solar Car Team, this time featuring our work with Continuum in WSC 2007. Details to come early next year.
In the meantime, by popular request, here’s a collection of images from WSC ’07:
Above: Continuum ready to start racing at 8:10am on October 21st, 2007. Above: The public lined the barriers exiting the start line in Darwin
Above: The array experienced significant damage following an accident close to the start line. By far the most serious damage was seen in the front steering bulkhead which supports the vehicle’s steering system. More than 50% of the carbon plate delaminated during the crash, rendering the car undriveable and requiring delicate repairs.
Above: Race Crew member sleeping in the semi between work shifts while repairing Continuum’s body, steering, and array. Repairs were complete by 8:00am the next day.
Above: The engineering team spent all night after day 2 repairing extensive damage to the electrical system after experiencing a battery short caused by the accident the day before Above: Continuum charging after a successful day on the road
Above: Continuum Team at the ceremonial finish line in downtown Adelaide
Continuum averaged 89 kph during the second half of the race, finishing the 1500 kilometer stretch 45 minutes faster than our 2005 vehicle despite regulation changes. The vehicle passed nearly 30 Teams, making up between 7 and 10 hours of race time on its nearest competitors over 3,000 kilometers. Even after more than 10 hours of repairs, Continuum finished 7th place in the Challenge Class, only 9 minutes behind the 6th place Team, 47 minutes behind the 5th place Team, and 3 hours 47 minutes behind the 4th place Team.
See below for pictures from the World Solar Challenge. Included are pictures of the repairs done to Continuum.
Damage to the lower surface:
Damage to the concentrator canopy:
Damage to the upper surface:
Beginning repairs on the lower surface:
Repaired lower surface:
Repairing the upper surface:
Continuum back on the road!
Continuum charing at a control stop:
Dear Friends, Family and Fans of the Michigan Solar Car Team,
I am Bob Culver, one of the faculty advisors of the team and I have just returned from Australia and would like to share some perspectives with you.
I often say that the Solar Car experience is a self-awareness or awakening of sorts, allowing students to find their own limits – what they can do and what they cannot do. Well, I was half right. This team was tested often. It started with a structural failure in the bulkhead just a few days before they were scheduled to leave for Australia. The team quickly analyzed and fixed the problem such that the resulting structure was stronger than ever. Then came the dust devil in Australia that almost destroyed the array that you have read about in the blog. And then, of course, was the accident. After a short period of shock and a few tears, the team began the arduous task of rebuilding the front end of Continuum. No one needed any inspirational speeches as everyone was working with determination and purpose as soon as the car was back to the Darwin racetrack. It was truly amazing and inspiring to see the car rebuilt and ready for racing in about 10 hours. This team responded to everything and anything that was thrown at them. So, pardon the double negative, the Continuum team never found out what they couldn’t do!
During the qualifying week, the Continuum team continued the Michigan tradition of helping other teams. The team let the Venezuela team borrow a motor when many of their parts got stuck in customs. And the team, with Chito’s help, built a new wheel hub for the Malaysian team after an accident during a qualifying run destroyed their only hub. What goes around, comes around. At the accident scene, a local Darwin gentleman happened by to see the damage. When he saw the damage, he said he had a friend who was an expert in carbon fiber composites. We called the expert, Mr. Mike Butler, and he joined us back at the racetrack pits. Mike brought with him some fast curing resin which turned out the be critical to getting the repairs done quickly.
A special thanks to all the sponsors of this team. You have enabled an experience of a lifetime for a very special group of kids. They may not have finished first, but this team is definitely a group of winners.
Continuum completed the last 280.7 km of the race in 2 hours and 55 minutes with an average speed of 96.7 km/h. Yesterday we ended with an empty charge on our batteries and today we finished with more than half of a charge remaining. For the Alice Springs to Adelaide half of the race we averaged 89.8 km/h and finished that section of the race only 16 minutes behind Nuon’s time. We started this part of the race with well less than half of a battery charge, while they were given time to fully charge their batteries in Alice Springs. Continuum only just barely didn’t catch up with the 3 Teams directly in front of us and we should end up in 7th place in Challenge Class. Overall we passed over 25 Teams on our climb up the ranks after the accident. Continuum was the 4th Team to cross the finish line. Congratulations to the Nuon Solar Team for their 1st-place finish.
We must admit, from the beginning our goal was to place with a different finish than we ultimately placed, but at the end of the day we are very happy with how Continuum performed. To us, the first half of the race demonstrates that we are one of the best Teams in the world, while the second half demonstrates that we have one of the best cars in the world. A first place finish almost comes as an empty victory because it doesn’t demonstrate how good a Team really is. Only adversity demonstrates this, and having rallied around the crash we were able to show the world just how well we face and conquer it, and how well-prepared the Team was. As we crossed the finish line there were 25 friends and family members who had made the trip to Australia to watch the race and cheer us on. All of us were happy that we could make them proud by completing this race the way that we did.
The World Solar Challenge has left everyone with a desire to continue racing Continuum. We all look forward to participating in the North American Solar Challenge, where we will have the opportunity to show what Continuum is truly capable of. None of this would have been possible without the tremendous support of our sponsors including our Platinum sponsors: The University of Michigan, The University of Michigan College of Engineering, BHP Billiton, Ford, and General Motors. We would like to thank all of them and we hope that we have made you proud to be a part of the University of Michigan Solar Car Team!
Go Fast, Go Smooth, Go Blue!
Continuum has now reached Adelaide and has successfully completed the 2007 World Solar Challenge! We completed the race in 46 hours and 3 minutes with an average speed of 65.09 km/hr. This puts us at 36 hours and 2 minutes not including the time lost from the accident with an average speed of 83.83 km/hr! Stay tuned for results as the Teams behind us finish the race! As soon as we hear from the race crew in Australia I’ll get a more detailed update as well!
Today we started 1,977km into the race, 45 km north of Cadney Homestead. We had an astonishingly quick day through the Cadney and Glendambo Control Stops. We cruised at between 91 km/hr and over 100 km/hr, which is marvelous considering that we ended Wednesday with an empty battery pack. Continuum covered 720 km and reached Port Augusta with an average speed of 92 km/hr for the day. We had our first flat tire and were able to change that tire in less than 8 minutes! Continuum has made up nearly 2 hours on Twente, at least another hour on the Southern Taiwan Solar Car Team, and about one hour on Solar World. At this point we are in, at worst, 13th place overall in the race. With 280km left, we will be starting the day at the Port Augusta control stop, where we arrived at 5:08pm today. Nuon arrived at the end of timing but they have not gone through the finish, and to our knowledge no other teams have reached the end of timing. It was another great day of racing and we’re excited to have made up nearly 8 hours on our closest competitors. The Team coming out of this race is so very different from the one that started it. Spirits are unbelievably high and everyone is greatly excited about how Continuum has performed in the first 2700km of the World Solar Challenge.
Continuum has just passed through the Glendambo Control Stop around 1:30pm Australia time. Based on the GPS data we seem to have made it there without any stops and we should be able to make it most of the way to Port Augusta before the end of the day!
We recently learned that the Stanford Solar Car Team was involved in a race-ending accident. Our Team is very sorry to hear this as we have had a very good relationship with their Team since the beginning of this project. We are very thankful to hear that no one was injured in the Stanford accident and hope that they are able to repair their car for the upcoming North American Solar Challenge!
The Team is currently 45 km outside of Cadney Homestead. Today Continuum traveled a total of 700 km with an average speed of 82 km/hr. At Alice Springs, Continuum was in 7th place among Challenge Class vehicles and 16th overall. We were 11 hours and 24 minutes behind Nuon, 10 hours and 2 minutes behind Umicore, 9 hours and 40 minutes behind Aurora, 5 hours and 20 minutes behind Bochum, 4 hours and 26 minutes behind Twente, and 3 hours and 58 minutes behind Soutern Taiwan. Today we have gained 30 minutes on Bochum , 1 hour on Twente, and 50 minutes on Soutern Taiwan. Please keep in mind that we have had 10 hours and 2 minutes of down time from repairs during the first 2 days of the race. Also keep in mind that even if we go through the control stop before a Team they may still be ahead of us due to the way the Alice Springs Control Stop was structured.
The format for the Alice Springs Control Stop was not known by officials or the Teams until 5:30 on Tuesday evening. The way it worked is that when we arrived at 11am on Wednesday morning the first 6 challenge class teams had at least 2 hours of charge time (and as much as 10 hours of charge time) while Teams that arrived after only got 30 minutes of charging. The first 3 Challenge Class teams were spaced out the distance they arrived and then each car after that was spaced out in 10 minute intervals. Challenge Class Teams arriving after that treated it as a normal control stop. Basically the slowest cars were allowed the least charge time and the fastest cars were given the most charge time.
Today we are just outside of Cadney Homestead and teams like Nuon got here at 1:54pm, while Umicore arrived at 3:20 in the afternoon. Continuum arrived later than them, but we had to drive another 220km this morning just to reach Alice Springs. It took us 5 hours and 43 minutes to get to our stopping point from Alice Springs, meaning that we should arrive in Cadney Homestead in 6 hours and 15 minutes. Despite setbacks and only running on half of a battery pack’s charge, Continuum is keeping pace with even the lead cars. In general, the crew is focused on regaining ground and is extremely proud to see Continuum making so much progress in such a short amount of time. It’s one thing to build a fast Team, but to have a Team who can take on a challenge this great, clear it, and still be so fast is incredible to be a part of. It’s almost impossible to prepare for what happened on Day 1 despite thousands of miles of testing in light and heavy traffic. To have rebuilt Continuum overnight is fascinating to see. We look to arrive in Adelaide at midday on Friday and we are eager to see how Continuum will perform over the next 2 days.
Go Fast, Go Smooth, Go Blue!
Last night Michigan camped a little over 200 km north of Alice Springs and Continuum did not have to pull over even once. This was the first night since the accident that everyone could get a good night’s sleep. It took Continuum just under 3 hours to reach Alice Springs this morning, which was treated as a normal control stop. This unfortunately means that we were not able to recharge our batteries like the Teams that arrived the day before. We plan to cross into South Australia this afternoon and will hopefully approach the Cadney Homestead Control Stop by the end of the day. At the border of the Northern Territory, the speed limit drops to 110 kph, limiting the speed at which Teams can cruise. Because of the control stop, everyone is only about 3 hours ahead of us on the road (a bit more for total elapsed time). Consequently all other Challenge Class Teams should experience the same weather, so we should be able to catch up with a fair number of them.
The Weather Team is 60 or 70km ahead of the rest of the Team. We started off the race as prepared as we could be. The forcasting went really well. The only issue was with the Intermet hardware, but after speaking with Intermet to troubleshoot hardware problems, this was fixed. We have had several successful weather balloon launches so far and launch them 4 times per day – at 7am, 11am, 3pm, and 7pm. The UAV has yet to be launched, but once we reach Southern Australia we will do that, too. There was a 250 km wall of clouds that slowed us down quite a bit before Alice Springs. Right now we’re getting about 25 or 30 mph headwinds that are slowing Continuum. After seeing the control stop leader board in Alice Springs we realized that we aren’t doing all that badly especially considering the one day that we lost in Darwin. Everyone is excited at how well Continuum is performing after the accident and we hope to continue passing other teams in South Australia!