Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Solar Car From U-Michigan Has Sleek, Asymmetrical Design

20.06.2013
The lopsided solar car named Generation, unveiled today, might be the oddest-looking vehicle the top-ranked University of Michigan team has ever built. But the bold shape is a calculated effort to design the most efficient car possible, given major changes in World Solar Challenge race rules.

The World Solar Challenge is an 1,800-mile, week-long endurance contest across the continent of Australia that takes place every other fall. The U-M team has come in third place five times, most recently in 2011. The reigning national champions are hoping that Generation can carry them to their first world race victory this October.

"We spent a lot of time refining the design and we're feeling really good about it," said Eric Hausman, team project manager and senior in industrial and operations engineering.

The most significant rule change for 2013 is that cars must have four wheels instead of three. That, Hausman says, is the biggest shift since 2007, when the driver moved from lying down to seated. Both new requirements called for teams to essentially start from scratch and outline new vehicle shapes.

"So in '07, you had to figure out where to put the driver in the air foil," Hausman said. "This year, it's similar. You have to figure out how to arrange the wheels and the driver in the new optimal position, and we think we've found that basic geometry."

The component the team had the most leeway with wasn't the wheels, but rather the driver's seat—nicknamed the "butt bucket" by the team because that's essentially what it is. In the old three-wheeled cars, the butt bucket was situated right behind the front wheel—encased in the same fairing, actually.

Under the new rules, the wheels can't be right next to each other, so if the team were to arrange them like wheels in a regular car, the bucket would hang down below the lower surface, reducing the car's efficiency. So the team didn't put it there.

"We have the driver and two wheels all in one giant fairing on the left side of the car and on the right side, we have two small fairings—one for each wheel," Hausman said. "Aerodynamically, it's about creating as few bumps on the surface as possible. The design also reduces shading of the solar cells by placing the canopy to the side."

From the front, Generation is reminiscent of a motorcycle with a sidecar, but it's not as lopsided as it looks, the students say. The team put most of the heavy equipment on what would be the passenger's side to keep Generation's center of gravity in its center—where it needs to be to keep the car stable.

"Having four wheels will change a lot of things about the way we race this car," said Matt Goldstein, a senior in computer science and engineering who heads the team's strategy division. "This is a new concept to us and a different design, so we will have to adjust our strategy appropriately. The new regulations will definitely stir the pot and I am excited to make our best shot at a championship."

The team has described its cars as "ultimate electric vehicles," as they run off a battery charged by sunlight. While solar cars aren't likely to be viable in the near future, there are other more immediate applications for the technologies the team develops, working in close collaboration with industry. And the new rules, which also require that drivers sit slightly more upright and have a wider field of vision, make the 2013 vehicles a bit more like cars on the road today.

"We are very proud of this car," said crew chief Bryan Mazor, a senior in physics who leads the team's engineering division. "It is a very efficient, very aerodynamic design. We were also able to build faster than ever through the support of our sponsors. Now we'll be able to test every facet of this car, in preparation for World Solar Challenge."

Major sponsors this year include General Motors, Ford, IMRA, the U-M College of Engineering, Qatar Airways and Siemens.

The World Solar Challenge is Oct. 6-13, 2013, from Darwin to Adelaide, Australia. With more than 100 members from schools and colleges across the university, the U-M Solar Car Team is one of the largest student organizations on campus. U-M's team has finished first in the North American Solar Challenge seven times.

U-M Solar Car Team: www.umsolar.com

Nicole Casal Moore | Newswise
Further information:
http://www.umich.edu
http://www.umsolar.com

More articles from Automotive Engineering:

nachricht The car of the future – sleeper cars and travelling offices too?
18.06.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO

nachricht Self-driving cars for country roads
07.05.2018 | Massachusetts Institute of Technology, CSAIL

All articles from Automotive Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First diode for magnetic fields

Innsbruck quantum physicists have constructed a diode for magnetic fields and then tested it in the laboratory. The device, developed by the research groups led by the theorist Oriol Romero-Isart and the experimental physicist Gerhard Kirchmair, could open up a number of new applications.

Electric diodes are essential electronic components that conduct electricity in one direction but prevent conduction in the opposite one. They are found at the...

Im Focus: Nonstop Tranport of Cargo in Nanomachines

Max Planck researchers revel the nano-structure of molecular trains and the reason for smooth transport in cellular antennas.

Moving around, sensing the extracellular environment, and signaling to other cells are important for a cell to function properly. Responsible for those tasks...

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Optical Coherence Tomography: German-Japanese Research Alliance hosted Medical Imaging Conference

19.11.2018 | Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helping to Transport Proteins Inside the Cell

21.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Meta-surface corrects for chromatic aberrations across all kinds of lenses

21.11.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Removing toxic mercury from contaminated water

21.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>