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Power Technology

World Solar Challenge Started in Australian Desert 113

Posted by Zonk
from the go-sun-go dept.
photonic writes "The World Solar Challenge has just finished the first racing day. It is a 3000 kilometer race from Darwin to Adelaide for cars that are powered by solar energy only. The results from this day have not yet been published, but intermediate results suggest that the Dutch Nuon Solar Team is again on the lead. This team from Delft University of Technology has a reputation to uphold since they also won the previous two races in 2001 and 2003, the last one in a record breaking 97 km/h average. The Tesseract team from MIT was less fortunate: during the qualification they got off track and rolled over. After some fixing up they still managed to qualify into 7th place on battery power, but with substantial damage to the solar panel their challenge will be finishing rather than winning."
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World Solar Challenge Started in Australian Desert

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  • solar energy only? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by n01 (693310) on Sunday September 25, 2005 @01:14PM (#13645082)
    What does "for cars that are powered by solar energy only" mean. Do the batteries need to be empty at the start of the trip? Or as full as they were at the start when the cars reach the finish?

    Otherwise I wouldn't count it as "solar energy only", even though they might have charged the accumulators beforehand through the solar panels.

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    • Right, because the few kilograms (at most) of batteries they carry are going to be worth shit on a 3000km trip...

    • by Anonymous Coward
      no sails, no human pedal power.
    • by pilardi (187433) on Sunday September 25, 2005 @01:32PM (#13645197)
      They may start with batteries charged with 5kWh of stored energy

      http://www.wsc.org.au/2005/competition/vehicle.cla sses/solar/ [wsc.org.au]
      • In equivalent energy.

        Thats a US gallon, and I guess that would mean it's about 2/3rds of a liter equivalent.
      • Actually, in the technical regulations of the race, section B paragraph 2, battery capacity is specified as an allowable mass for a given chemistry.

        for instance:
        Pb Acid is allowed 125kg (assumed 40Wh/kg)
        Ag/Zn is allowed 40kg (assumed 125Wh/kg)
        Li-ion is allowed 35kg (140Wh/kg)

        It doesn't take too much searching to find batteries that exceed those energy densities. Particularly if you overcharge your chemistry you could be looking at 5.2 to 5.3kWh which is nice little cushion to burn in the sprint fro
      • Another question: how do they stop the participants from trying to take advantage of wind, ie turn a solar car competition, to sail car competition?
        • Over the years the organizers have looked upon sailing fairly kindly so long as the car met the dimensional requirements. Team New England/Santa Cruz's Pumpkinseed and one of the early Solar Motions cars also had sails. Rumor was that they were able to see a difference in performance but it wasn't enough to overcome other shortcomings in the vehicle. The TNE/SC and Solar Motions cars had, I think, active control of the angle of attack of their sails. Most well designed solar cars passivly sail in a cros
    • I believe they are solar power ONLY. This means no batteries. Obviously they can only go during daylight hours if this is the case. Pictures I have seen of these types of cars do not look like they have batteries of any type, They are all about aerodynamic efficiency.
    • Yes of course, once you transfer the solar energy into the batteries it becomes _electrical_ energy. So it's not allowed. And of course the motor changes it into /kinetic/ energy?

      Just who are they trying to fool, cheating with kinetic energy?
  • by baryon351 (626717) on Sunday September 25, 2005 @01:16PM (#13645093)
    > during the qualification they got off track and rolled over [wsc.org.au].

    Upside down country did it, the solar car was merely trying to right itself.

    Another oddity, that khaki colour car there looks like a 4 door GTO 'coupe'

    Strange
  • Day 1 results (Score:4, Informative)

    by Thijs van As (826224) on Sunday September 25, 2005 @01:18PM (#13645108) Homepage Journal
    From the Dutch Nuna website:
    The Nuna 3 won day 1, finishing half an hour before the Michigan team (which got a flat tire halfway).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 25, 2005 @01:18PM (#13645111)
    3000 kilometers = 12648.3018 btus per pound force
    97 km/h = 8.03640075 furlongs per minute
  • by DoubleRing (908390) on Sunday September 25, 2005 @01:19PM (#13645122)
    It takes a lot of work to build one of these cars. Plus, using them is a lot of work. Think of it this way: you're out in blazing sunlight, no fans or ac (would be using too much extra power, which you can't afford). You start as soon as your car will start (a few minutes after the crack of dawn) and keep going until your car's battery runs down. You don't stop at a hotel because, most probably, there isn't one where you stop. These guys are really building the future. And I respect that.

    On another note, does anyone know of a similar competition using hydrogen feul?
    • FYI, there is an incredible amount of strategy that goes into racing these cars - (and they don't actually run until the batteries are dead) - the chase van has teams monitoring weather forecasts, road conditions, etc that are constantly deciding what the best speed to try to maintain is (IIRC, all the cars are capable of ~90mph, but average speeds are ~60mph)




      • yes, I know. I was actually refering to another challange (I don't remember what it's called), where independent inventors are to make a car, and drive it across the US (latitude, not longitude) They don't have any extra teams. It's usually a one man job.
    • These guys are really building the future.


      Absolute best case the sun delivers about 1.2 kW/m^2 to the surface of the Earth. That's about 1.6 horsepower. Unless the Earth gets much closer to the sun that will simply never be enough power to propel a practical vehicle.

      That's not to take anything away from these engineers. To the contrary, it shows how little they have to work with. But solar cars are simply and provably not the future.
      • That's not to take anything away from these engineers. To the contrary, it shows how little they have to work with. But solar cars are simply and provably not the future.

        You're right in that this particular application probably wouldn't find commercial success, but that doesn't mean the technology and engineering techniques these people develop wont be of use in other areas. Technology has a fascinating habit of jumping application boundaries.

      • by MindStalker (22827) <mindstalker.gmail@com> on Sunday September 25, 2005 @03:13PM (#13645741) Journal
        Yes, but as well the average person drives their car at most 2 hours a day. The sun up 8-16 hours a day. Assuming 12 hours a day of sun that gives you 1 hour of 19.2 (using your 1.6 estimate) horsepower. Still nothing huge, but combine this with a hybrid system its simply one more thing to add to the equasion. Of course a pluggable hybrid that connects to a large scale solar would make more sense. I assume this technology is more about how to get the most miles for the least horsepower, as well as improved solar conversion.
        • You're being way to optimistic. You can only approach that 1.2kW number at noon. And you can only capture about 15% of that with contemporary PV cells.

          Rerunning your calculation shows that you gain just under 3hp (we're conflating power and energy, but it doesn't much matter). But that's still assuming we're getting full sun from sunrise to sunset.

          I'm all for clean energy, but we won't obtain it through self-delusion.

          -Peter
          • I agree that 12 hour is too optimistic. Pulling some numbers out of the air (e.g. here [solarbuzz.com]) gives not much more than 2 to 6 hours of sun per day effectively, averaged over the whole year and depending on the climate. This probably includes the fact that a fixed panel will only have perpendicular illumination at noon and recieves under an angle the rest of the day. You forgot to multiply with the number of square meters and a normal size garage would easily fit 10 m^2.

            Best case is thus 6 hour * 1.2 kW/m^2 * 1

        • ...here:

          http://www.greencarcongress.com/2005/08/solarpower augme.html [greencarcongress.com] ...and that's with the heavy old-style silicone cells and a bodged-together power convertor system made from off-the-shelf parts. Imagine flexible CIGS cells printed onto the roof/hood/trunk.

          Combine the above with thermoelectric convertors for exhaust heat recovery and you could be talking 200mpg for average driving patterns. All that stands in the way is current component costs.
    • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Sunday September 25, 2005 @01:45PM (#13645280) Journal
      you're out in blazing sunlight, no fans or ac (would be using too much extra power, which you can't afford). You start as soon as your car will start (a few minutes after the crack of dawn) and keep going until your car's battery runs down. You don't stop at a hotel because, most probably, there isn't one where you stop. These guys are really building the future.
      If that is the future, I'll stick with my SUV, thank you.
    • Although in terms of technology it is indeed a nice contest, I don't see how transporting a solar car, two normal cars and a van to Australia from the Netherlands (or any other country), and then driving these for the same 3000 miles, does anything to contribute to the real reason for having have solar powered cars, namely conserve enery....
    • While they can start whenever they want, by the rules they "must make camp by 5pm each evening". http://www.wsc.org.au/2005/competition/ [wsc.org.au]

      And, yes, there's a whole lot of sfa between Darwin and Port Augusta (the southern end of the Stuart Highway) - I've driven it many times.

  • While I normally don't like racing, I am all for solar powered racing. With all the racers competing against each other they find out how to make solar powered cars more efficient, possibly getting them into consumers hands faster. However, I doubt there will be many people who want them until they can get them to go faster than 60mph with a good battery life.
  • As much as I love these contests, I'm not sure they provide much beyond marketing. The skills and technologies needed to create a hand-built, one-off, contest-winner are totally different from those needed to create a factory that makes millions of mass-produced, affordable, everyday vehicles. Its not that hard to make "a" solar-powered car where student labor is free and the solar vehicle runs with a caravan of gas-powered support vehicles. But the real key is to create the manufacturing infrastructure
    • I dunno ... any time you have people pushing a technological envelope something useful usually comes out of it. Sometimes in unexpected ways.
      • I dunno ... any time you have people pushing a technological envelope something useful usually comes out of it. Sometimes in unexpected ways.

        I agree 100%. The question is: which technological envelopes need to be pushed to get solar power commercialized? Is it the base technology of the vehicle or is it the design-for-manufacturing issues and manufacturing system that need the most development now? I'd wager that engineers have a very good understanding of the properties of solar power, power electron
        • Well, let's face it: true solar-powered vehicles are unlikely ever to be commercialized. Solar power (on Earth) is simply not sufficiently energy-dense to provide anything like driving in a conventional vehicle, which can easily generate 100 kilowatts (say, a 130 HP engine at 746 watts per horsepower). I mean, at roughly 1.44 kilowatts/square meter (at 100% conversion efficiency of ALL wavelengths on a bright day) solar really doesn't give you much power to work with, which is why these solar vehicles are
          • Well, let's face it: true solar-powered vehicles are unlikely ever to be commercialized.

            Probably. An effective end product would be a hybrid using ethanol for acceleration and the battery to keep momentum going. Refill on the ethanol once in a while at the service station, refill the battery at your house (with solar panels replacing your house's roof). There are some homes already paying their electricity bills and on-selling surplus to energy suppliers, so the concept's reasonably proven.

            That said, I

    • Of course these races won't do the trick, but the research which is being done for these cars will help understanding solar power better and it will certainly have a lot of spinn-off into the real world. That's the purpose of a lot of fundamental research and also the purpose of for instance the martian-landers (unless you're really planning on living on mars when we fucked up earth too much)
    • Muahahha.... I predict a spinach powered car competition.
      http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6434 [newscientist.com]
    • Solarr cars will never be a practical rewality for the masses - see another post which deals with this. However contest such as this are
      • fun
      • providers of the drivers for technological innovation
      • fun
      If all science was driving towards the market place then we'd never have reached the moon (and hence never had teflon!)
    • It's like Formula 1. There are limited but real technologies that trickle down from these kinds of things plus it's entertaining. But I do wonder what are the actual engineering advancements that are coming out of these things? These teams don't seem to be developing new solar cell technologies, maybe we are getting low friction high efficiency electric motors? I guess at the least we are getting some engineers out of it.
    • Sir, respectfully, you are talking through your hat. This specific solar car race has inspired the development of a 98% efficiency electrical drive system. The skills to build electrical drives of this type at any size, for any application were gained by building one-of-a-kind prototype solar cars. This motor is now a standard COTS product that is used by just about all solar car teams. In the future production lines will be producing tens of thousands of motors based on this very design. That will very mu
      • I have been in 2 of these races and your claim about using hand-me-down solar cells is very questionable. All the teams that I know of (including mine), glue the solar cells to the body with some kind of "super glue" (epoxy, etc). And it is very difficult to remove the cells without damaging them. Do you know what you are talking about?

            I agree that the way to build a winning car is pretty much predetermined now.

        • The Fuji Xerox Desert rose used cells that were surplus to another university requrements. They got the cells for a cheap price when the better funded team upgraded the cells of their solar car's array. They were not the higest efficency cells on the market, when obtained, and they were not new either.

          Yes, you are qite correct about each of the cells being individually glued into place. I know because I've helped replace them.

          FM
      • Sir, respectfully, you are talking through your hat. This specific solar car race has inspired the development of a 98% efficiency electrical drive system.

        True. But I never said that prior races weren't instrumental in developing key technologies and apologize if I gave that impression. My point was that at some point the technological challenge shifts (has shifted) from prototyping the technologies for one-off test vehicles for races to creating the technologies for commercialization/mass-production.
        • My point, exactly. These races are fun, provide good marketing, but don't solve the real challenge to commercialization.

          I had the same thoughts when I attended the qualifiers of NASC 2005. Personally, I think the management should add rules like:

          1. The driver should have a comfortable seat. With specs as to what is considered comfortable.

          2. Should be able to take along x pounds of additional "load" and should have at least x cc of volume for the "load" area. Akin to the trunk of a car.

          The solar cars would
    • Bah... if they want a challenge they should have it in Buffalo, NY!
    • I hope these contests continue, but I also hope people don't think that these contests are solving the real-world problems of applying solar power.

      Well, since some of the "engineers" competing in this are Western Australian school kids, I think the experience they'll be getting bodes very well for solar power. http://www.leeming.wa.edu.au/programs/solarcar/sol arcar.htm [wa.edu.au]
    • "Its not that hard to make a solar-powered car where student labor is free"

      Really? I was team manager for a solar car team a few years ago, and student labor may not cost many dollars, but it most certainly isn't free. These cars take a lot of time and dedication to build, and motivating someone to do unpaid engineering is an exceptionally difficult challenge. You can't threaten to cut their pay (not that a good manager would need to resort to that), and they have competing demands, like doing well on ex
  • Test driver wanted (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    http://www.nuonsolarteam.nl/movies/ [nuonsolarteam.nl]
    Dutch team is searching for test drivers.
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Sunday September 25, 2005 @01:43PM (#13645265) Journal
    this type of contest will lead to advantageous developments in both solar energy generation and electrical power usage. Both of these can lead to a greener world. Sounds coy, but if everyone was contributing to the power grid instead of only sucking from it, the reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear energy would decrease. This is better for everyone (I'm NOT anti-nuclear or a global warming nutjob) and the planet as well.

    As stupid as it sounds, I think that trying to use cleaner energy will lead us to better use of just about everything. If power were essentially free for all to use, there would be a massive shift of cultural and business boundaries. Anyone can donate farm equipment to poor 3rd world countries, but continuous powering of that equipment is the down side. If you teach them to fish with a huge fishing vessel, you still have to show them how to power it.

    I'm not saying that power/energy generation and usage is the crux of the world's problems, but when you look at the list of problems, pick the one that gives you the biggest bang for buck when it is fixed, engergy generation/usage is close or at the top of that list.

    So, in respect of the possible outcomes of such racing events, I have high hopes that it will lead the world to better ways of doing things. Hybrid cars are a good start, but the technology is still lagging behind where we really need it to be. Approximately 10-25% of US household budgets will be spent on fuels and energy this winter because of the recent hurricanes, damage, and of course price gouging. If we all had the capability of generating at least some of our own energy, it would be competition to other fuel/energy sources... which hopefully would drop the price as well as reliance on oil companies. This can't be anything other than good.

    Perhaps windmills on the roofs are not a safe/good idea, but we need something.
    • >If you teach them to fish with a huge fishing vessel, you still have to show them how to power it.
      And to be responsible with the usage of the fishing vessel to avoid destroying too much the ocean ground or to reduce to much the number of fish, which is not infinite either.

      But yes, cheap energy in third world would preserve the tree, help with the communications, pump water, etc, and clean energy would preserve the planet, now the only problem is that nobody has a clue on how to have clean energy cheaper
  • by SigmundFreud (656053) on Sunday September 25, 2005 @01:54PM (#13645335) Homepage
    The success of the Dutch team has (finally) caused others to take up the challenge. One is another from the Netherlands, the http://www.solarteamtwente.nl/nieuws.php [solarteamtwente.nl] Solutra team (http://www.utwente.nl/ [utwente.nl] University of Twente). Compared to the Delftian guys, these people are novices, but it's nice to see some real rivalry and competition being initiated. I saw them practice, just a few days before the went to Australia, and asked if they has practiced changing tires (which I think is the important thing in winning the challenge). The answer: no, not yet, do you think that's important?
    Remember that it really is a challenge, since temperatures inside the car can get more than 50 degrees Celsius.
  • by Adult film producer (866485) <van@i2pmail.org> on Sunday September 25, 2005 @01:58PM (#13645364)
    sooner or later, well, wanna have a fight ? Lets googlefight and settle this once and for all

    Google Fight - Solar vs Nuclear power! [googlefight.com]

    Ohh hell, whatever... you guys can have this one but we'll be back.
  • new hybrids? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lem0n263 (915429)
    i for one am for the race... of course it will be a long time like the previous posters said... but hey.... how about a couple solar pannels on cars?? It doesn't have to be fully dependent on solar energy... must like the hybrids of today....once the technology gets better... you get the idea... Like the idea of solar powered shingles for houses to reduce energy costs... just the little things to reduce overall consumption of fossil fuels...especially if you are every hurricane season paying $3.00+ for ga
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Darwin to Adelaide is 3050km.

    That is an order of magnitude discrepancy with the summary's quoted 300km.

    As an Aussie, I knew that sounded wrong. That route is the entire North-South breadth of the continent!
  • I read somewhere that some of hte teams spend ~ 1 million on their cars and they produce less than 1 HP. Is this true? If so, you could probably tear out the solar panels and batteries and replace the electric engine(s) with a cheap gas one that is good for 200 miles per galon and pocket the other $975,000.
  • Solar trains (Score:3, Interesting)

    by drwho (4190) on Sunday September 25, 2005 @04:53PM (#13646271) Homepage Journal
    I was reading about this race, and the cars involved, and the comments here on slashdot about "it
    s not the future" because the cars are too slow. That may be true.

    But what about solar trains? I know that rail systems tend to be designed with as little rolling friction as possible, so that most of the work involved is overcoming intertia. Imagine a train, with solar cells on the roof of each boxcar connected to an electric locomotive on one end or the other. It would start like one of those circus stunts of a guy pulling a rain car with his teeth, i.e. very slowly but the solar cells powering the electric locomotives gradually add some good momentum, and things start moving at a good clip. When night falls, they gradually slow down, and come to a stop for the night.

    Imagine that this is continuous, on a homogenous all-solar rail system. Because of the relative uniformity of solar radiation within the medium range, the movement of the various trains on the track will be fairly uniform. Trains should seldom have to brake, and even this braking could be be harnessed, the electric motors used as slow brakes and generators, storing the energy in batteries.

    Of course, these trains would be slow. It might take weeks for cargo to get from one end of australia or the US to another. It would also only work where the rail system is pretty flat, unless the aformentioned recovery of inertia can be done with high efficieny and capacity.

    It could be useful for commodities that don't have to move fast. Things like ores. Not things like food, which would go bad.

    I guess the largest problem with this idea is that it would require a separate rail system, to keep the fast trains from being stuck behind these slow movers. Building such a rail system is expensive.
    • Of course, these trains would be slow. It might take weeks for cargo to get from one end of australia or the US to another. It would also only work where the rail system is pretty flat, unless the aformentioned recovery of inertia can be done with high efficieny and capacity. ... I guess the largest problem with this idea is that it would require a separate rail system, to keep the fast trains from being stuck behind these slow movers. Building such a rail system is expensive.

      None of the problems you listed

    • Well that would not work when the train (automatically) has to stop, for someone in a broken-down car on the rails, a nut with suicidal tendencies or livestock. Also these trains would have to be made very light and the track cannot go up or downhill (for lack of braking power/accellerating power). The roof area of a train is not that big either compared to its volume and on cloudy days it would simply stop. Solar cells are also very inefficient and they break quite easily.
      My hopes are on good energy source
      • On this particular route, most of your objections aren't really a concern.

        Modern trains can (and generally do) use regenerative braking anyway, but for most of the drive you would probably average about 1 rail crossing every few hundred kilometers, and over that part of the trip the total rise and fall probably need not be more than about 1000 feet (get out an atlas and check out the contour lines over most of Australia, ignoring the east coast).

        The trains only need to be as light as you'd prefer for accele
        • Thanks for your comments. Even the disappointing ones at least weren't rude ;)

          Another idea would be wind power - sailing trains. But hey, I am glad to see that at least the idea has some credence, even if it isn't yet ready for a business plan.
    • With the current technology, the solar cells required to power a train pulling any sort of useful load would not come close to fitting on the train.

      However, around the Adelaide-Darwin railway, there is a lot of desert. If they were to plant solar collectors, and/or a few of those solar chimneys [enviromission.com.au], near the track and feed the electricity generated into overhead power lines or a third rail, they could probably have electric trains running up and down the centre of Australia for free. (Of course, this does not f
  • Myself and my roomate, more my roomate, are planning on building one of these. This summer he saw the solar power race that goes from Texas to Calgary (not to certain if end-points are correct). I'm not sure if this race is of the same caliber but he saw so many things on those cars that made his hair stand on end ie: why would you use something so heavy? why is the car so far off the ground? Why would you spend so much money on X if you can do it with anohter cheaper material? Basically he saw alot of noob
    • why would you use something so heavy? why is the car so far off the ground? Why would you spend so much money on X if you can do it with anohter cheaper material? Basically he saw alot of noobish ideas, isn't this built by university students who are supervised by a prof?

      These cars are as light as possible, even the drivers are selected for size and weight.
      The cars are so far off the ground for good reasons, the main one is less drag. The wheels/tires are selected for the least resistance, the shape is w

    • Re:Building One (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cbc1920 (730236)
      The biggest rules limiting design are the following: Car size: 1.8x5m, 2m high. The size limit is for obvious reasons- without it, they cars would get huge. driver position: eye height 0.7m, head behind and above knees, ground visibility 8m ahead. Purely safety- the driver can't see what's going on if he's 2" off the pavement, and a headfirst seating position is incredibly dangerous in any crash. Other than that, all of the rules just say that your car has to be electrically and mechanically safe, with b
    • Re:Building One (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Infinityis (807294)
      Most all the rules are there to ensure safety and/or fairness. If there are any rules that are a problem, it would be the fairness ones, but in the context of a race, they are required. If you are designing your own solar vehicle, you would neither need nor want ballast bags to bring up the driver weight to minimum value. Also, awhile back, a team did quite well with an aerodynamic solar car that basically didn't have any solar cells except in the trunk. When they wanted to charge, they stopped, unfolde
  • These guys definitely need to use Google Earth to track the cars along the race.
  • by Hosiah (849792) on Sunday September 25, 2005 @05:59PM (#13646589)
    Here in the US, the plan seems to be to conquor the entire planet and pirate fossil fuels until the last drop is used...after which time, I wonder what plan B is? Scoop up corpes of vanquished third-world citizens and burn them, too? The heck with Soylent Green, we'll be too busy converting corpses into Soylent Gas, instead.

    I remember reading about Australia's solar-powered car race back in the 80's in the Smithsonian. Naive child that I was, then, I thought, "Wow! If they're doing that already, it can't be five years until we see them on the streets in the US!"

    Now, every time I bring this up, I hear "Aw, you can't drive from 'Frisco to Vegas in a single day in a solar-powered car!", so I'll cut out the middle man: You can keep your gas-guzzler for cross-country runs, industrial/commercial use, and off-road exploring. I'm talking about city-use only with these. The average urban dweller just needs to get around town, for driving times of less than 40 minutes each, on roads with lots of stop-and-go driving and speed limits 45 MPH or less - not counting the freeway (In places like LA, the freeways work out exactly the same, anyway, thanks to traffic!). To and from work, the store, appointments, etc. A hybrid electric-solar urban vehicle could be light (about half the raw materials we currently use), two-passenger (who needs the extra seats when most folks wouldn't car-pool if there were a gun to their heads?), and would only need to store a maximum of three or four hours charge (when was the last time you Big City types had a commute longer than that?). The expensive part comes in upgrading all the parking spaces - installing an outlet in each one. The car could locate the sensor whenever it's parked and automatically plug itself in, whenever it detects that it's low on juice. The cost is offset by the parking meters - which we already have all over the place downtown, anyway.

    The heck with the future - we should have started doing this ten years ago! Don't give me the usual Slashdot chant: "Can't happen! Won't work! Impossible!" Apply the freakin' science already! Instead of gas running you several hundred dollars a week, you could pay half that in taxes to fund this project.

    • The car could locate the sensor whenever it's parked

      I mean, use a sensor to locate the outlet...

    • First race was 1989, as far as I know and every 3 years since.

      So I don't get your rant here.

      These cars are very impractical. I'm not saying some of the technology can't be used in street cars. But to use these vehicles day to day would basically entail getting rid of traffic lights for starters, because their acceleration characteristics are so poor.

      As to lighter cars, if you want lighter cars, you have to start elsewhere. The biggest factor in the weight of current cars is safety and safety-based regulatio
    • What about hybrid cars? you can plug them in and charge them up. You can upgrade the batteries so that for commuting you'd never need any gasoline. But its there as a backup in case you need to go for a distance.

      You can buy solar panels and put them on the roof of your house. Call your congressman or MP and tell them that you'd like to see cleaner energy sources.

      The technology is here already. Just look around (and maybe pay a little extra, sucks to be an early adopter, huh?) you can put together a solu

  • by Fox_1 (128616) on Sunday September 25, 2005 @06:33PM (#13646789)
    From the University of Calgary [wsc.org.au]

    MIT's Tesseract met with disaster. Tesseract's front, left, carbon fiber tire rim broke on a tight turn causing the driver to loose control and roll over. After a few tense moments it was announced that the driver was okay, walking away with only a sprained wrist and some very rattled nerves. At the team meeting later in the day, it was mentioned that when the solar car was righted, the driver's head actually bumped the ground as the canopy had split on impact. Thankfully, MIT is one of a few teams participating in the WSC that prioritizes safety over aerodynamics, using both a roll bar and a helmet. No one doubts that the inclusion of these two safety measures assured that the driver was able to walk away today. Tesseract, on the other hand, did not fare as well as its driver. The array and top shell suffered substantial damage, but like any dedicated team, MIT is now burning the midnight oil in hopes of being on the starting line tomorrow morning
  • This challenge is also for other forms of "clean"/"green" energy.

    For example, a team is entering a car powered completely by ethanol. They converted an 80 year old vintage car for the purpose.
  • I got a design (dont put much faith in it) that mwy work but unfortunately I dont have recources. But I love these solar concept cars. If only our government would spend as much on alternative fules as they do on fossil fuels, we would not have smog issues because there would be no fossil fules. But HEY, what do I know? I'm only an over-informed 16yo.
  • ...would be smashed if they raced AWAY from Adelaide.

In any formula, constants (especially those obtained from handbooks) are to be treated as variables.

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