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Transportation Earth Power

Michigan Wins 2008 North American Solar Challenge 37

An anonymous reader writes "The University of Michigan Solar Car Team won the 2008 North American Solar Challenge, crossing the finish line in Alberta, Canada on Tuesday after more than 50 hours of racing over nine days. The team successfully defended their title from 2005, the last year the race was held. Final results have been posted on the North American Solar Challenge website and will be officially announced at an award ceremony later today."
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Michigan Wins 2008 North American Solar Challenge

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  • That's cool for Michigan. Congrats to the team. Personally, I sort of prefer when the small-budget amateur teams win.
  • Wow, from the results the 2nd and 3rd place finishers were 2 hours apart, but Michigan in 1st place was a full 10 hours ahead of the 2nd place finisher. Very impressive! Now where can I purchase one of these? :)

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by waterwingz ( 68802 )

      The results are somewhat misleading if you are just thinking about speed & times.

      For example, the University of Waterloo team crossed the finish line in 2nd place ( http://www.midsun.uwaterloo.ca/www [uwaterloo.ca] ) but finished fourth in the official standings. Not sure how that works but I assume there are penalty points for drinking too much Canadian beer en-route or something.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Bah, little secret: Michigan gets a ridiculous level of help from industry. Most of the other teams don't have it so easy.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cbc1920 ( 730236 )

        another little secret: Michigan has a business team (yes, team as in many members and its own command structure) that courts that industry help. Most of the other teams don't have the manpower or organization to do that.

  • I hate the team already.

    - some guy from Ohio

  • Of course I didn't read TFA, but 50 hours over 9 days doesn't sound overly impressive to me. You'd think they could do much better than that in summer.
    • Yep, just read TFA and there was no mention of why it took so long. I'm sure the students worked very hard and pushed the envelope forward, but "racing" only 50 hours over 9 days during a time of year when sun is the most plentiful kind of illustrates the unfortunate fact that solar is not ready for prime time, real world use.

      It's a shame, because we sure could use it.
      • by Retric ( 704075 )
        Your missing the point the second team took 10 hours more aka 60 hours which is not better than 50 hours but the race was still over 9 days.

        The winner averaged 45 mph over 2,400 miles which took nine days driving ~5.5hours per day. Second place averaged ~37.5mph over 2,400 miles in 9 days driving ~6.6 hours a day.

        PS: It would take team 1 about the same energy to drive 80mph for ~760miles over 9 days driving ~1 hour a day. Or 1600miles at 55 mph for 4.5 hours a day over 9 days.
        • Yeah, I see your point, and that's cool and all; it's a great accomplishment, but judging by the end result, we're still not there. My point was that had this been gasoline, the 2400 miles could've been traversed much faster and for 24 hours a day with the switching of drivers.

          But I salute the hard work people are obviously putting into solar. Don't get me wrong, I hope solar gets there, but solar is not even close to gasoline yet. I'm just speaking from an objective analysis of the facts.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by CityZen ( 464761 )

      Sorry, but this race is not like Lemans.

      It looks like they scheduled it in stages (city to city) over 9 days. I'm sure that they had all teams complete the stage each day before starting the next stage. They probably gave themselves plenty of time to deal with cars that broke down and what not.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kaos07 ( 1113443 )
      The cars raced for 50 hours. It wasn't nonstop. Hence the "nine days". The average speed was 45mph on a 2200m course.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    G O B L U E ! ! !

  • You'll note the race started in Dallas (wish this was publicized more, I would have attended) - the Amtrak "Texas Eagle" is a full 2 day trip, plus some from Dallas to Chicago. These guys not only went past chicago, they went into another country. That's not bad, even if their little solar moped doesn't have a bathroom of full service cafe.
    I'm just sayin'.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Actually, it's a 23 hour trip. And a nice ride, as long as you don't hit a fallen tree in east Texas at 60mph....

    • bathroom of full service cafe.

      Eww..remind me never to go in there :p
  • by warpedrive ( 532727 ) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @10:52AM (#24318675) Homepage

    .. It used to say..
    " To win the race you need:
    1. A Lot of Money
    2. A Good Design
    3. A Great Team.. ..And you don't need the last two!"

    I've done solar car racing. It isn't a poor man's sport. Michigan gets more help from industry and more money than 70% of the rest of the teams out there combined. They regularly spend *millions*, in a 'collegiate' sport where small donations from local sponsors are the norm. It usually costs somewhere in the $250k+ range to field a minimal team. In addition, the rules are arcane, about what you can and can't do to gather energy, use for materials, etc. - in attempts to balance the teams. ..It isn't like there is enough energy in the equation to make a practical solar car..and there certainly isn't an economic argument yet. It's a weird, and highly unbalanced 'sport'.

    Kind of hard to give them kudos for being the ones who spent the most money.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I give them kudos nonetheless

    These students do all of this on their own (18 - 21 year olds): they organize themselves, recruit, gather donations, etc... all as a student driven organization. The University and the College of Engineering give little support; it's all a fact their own determination that has gotten them where they are. And no, the auto companies don't get any kind of "kick-backs" from backing the team. I really think the fact that they do so well is a testament to the quality and involvemen

  • like there are three groups of teams. The Fast Team:Michigan did it in roughly 50 hours. Then there is a 10 hour jump to second. The Competitive Teams:Places 2-5 took about 60-65 hours then there is another 10 hour jump to the Slow Teams.

    Is this a funding based difference or is the technical expertise on these teams really that different?

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      As a member of the University of Michigan Solar Car team, I have heard too many people attribute our success purely to our "easily came by" funding.

      First of all, there is nothing easy about being a well funded team. Members of our business team (and most of the engineering team) spend 40+ hours a week, in addition to classes and real jobs, working to secure our "easy funding." There are tens of thousands of telephone calls, emails and sponsor visits. The difference between us and other teams is that we have

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Oorah. Down with the haters. We are Michigan, we are the leaders and the best. Don't get angry/jealous... get even. Channel your frustrations to give us some better competition next time.

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