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Michigan Wins 2008 North American Solar Challenge

samzenpus posted about 6 years ago | from the half-a-year-of-grey-sky dept.

Transportation 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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37 comments

Fuck michigan (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24313965)

First post.

Nicely done (1)

DragonMantis (1327751) | about 6 years ago | (#24314007)

That's cool for Michigan. Congrats to the team. Personally, I sort of prefer when the small-budget amateur teams win.

Distribution (1)

nacturation (646836) | about 6 years ago | (#24314031)

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:Distribution (1, Informative)

waterwingz (68802) | about 6 years ago | (#24314323)

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:Distribution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24314585)

For example, the University of Waterloo team crossed the finish line in 2nd place but finished fourth in the official standings.

They were penalised for having a car powered, at least in part, by bad news. The only thing which travels faster than light.

Re:Distribution (3, Informative)

cbc1920 (730236) | about 6 years ago | (#24315007)

The race is set up in multiple stages, so that cars can travel more or less together. The winner is determined by the total elapsed time between stages. The final stage was only 200 miles, so the finish order was pretty much determined by then.

Re:Distribution (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24314633)

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

Re:Distribution (2, Insightful)

cbc1920 (730236) | about 6 years ago | (#24315021)

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.

Re:Distribution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24318147)

I suspect US auto industry is more than happy to fund the UMich team in return for concessions from the MI state government.

I'm not trying to take away from the team's accomplishment here.

Re:Distribution (1)

Chameleon Man (1304729) | about 6 years ago | (#24317101)

Very impressive! Now where can I purchase one of these? :)

I worked on Western Michigan's car (the Sunseeker) and unfortunately we were disqualified during the preliminaries due to issues with the solar grid flying off. I'm not sure how Michigan's car performs, but we calculated the ours to expend a little over $10k in parts per race. Considering the amount of work and money that went into these cars, only to be used for a short endurance race, tells me that these cars are far from production.

Can I be the first to say (2, Funny)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 6 years ago | (#24314251)

I hate the team already.

- some guy from Ohio

Re:Can I be the first to say (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24314295)

It's all good, The Buckeye Bullet is still the electric land speed world record holder. (unless its been broken again and I haven't head about it, of course)

Re:Can I be the first to say (0)

ApostleJohn (1236294) | about 6 years ago | (#24314417)

Go Blue!!!

i just back from the shitter (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24314487)

and i crapped out a new linux distro. probably the best one ever.

Re:i just back from the shitter (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24314737)

Wow, that's awesome d00d! I work for Goldman Sachs and am keen to install it on all our servers tomorrow. Where can I get a copy?

Suck it Ohio State (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24314567)

Go back to farming buckeyes

50 hours / 9 days (1)

religious freak (1005821) | about 6 years ago | (#24314709)

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.

Re:50 hours / 9 days (1)

religious freak (1005821) | about 6 years ago | (#24314749)

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.

Re:50 hours / 9 days (1)

Retric (704075) | about 6 years ago | (#24317685)

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.

Re:50 hours / 9 days (1)

religious freak (1005821) | about 6 years ago | (#24330833)

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:50 hours / 9 days (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24314983)

Two weeks. Two weeks. Ugh... Two weeks. Ugghaahuhu, two weeks!

Re:50 hours / 9 days (2, Informative)

CityZen (464761) | about 6 years ago | (#24315005)

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:50 hours / 9 days (2, Insightful)

kaos07 (1113443) | about 6 years ago | (#24315883)

The cars raced for 50 hours. It wasn't nonstop. Hence the "nine days". The average speed was 45mph on a 2200m course.

Re:50 hours / 9 days (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24317811)

i'm having trouble figuring out what you mean by "45mph on a 2200m course"

is that 2200 miles? or 2.2 kilometers? and in that case, why would you mix unit systems? or were they crawling at less than one meter per minute??

Hail To The Victors! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24314865)

G O B L U E ! ! !

Faster than passenger train? (1)

Hadlock (143607) | about 6 years ago | (#24315211)

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:Faster than passenger train? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24315255)

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....

Re:Faster than passenger train? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24315383)

I have it on good authority that no tree in East Texas ever moved faster than 25. Its how the cops there tune their radar guns.

Re:Faster than passenger train? (1)

greedyturtle (968401) | about 6 years ago | (#24319733)

I guess you missed the news about Hurricane Rita eh? Luckily for the cops in Texas, the movement of they flying trees and the flying people was all relative, so they could still tune their radar guns.

I should know too, they gave me a ticket for going 40 in a 25 mph zone, and for failing to yield to an officer when I didn't pull my house over fast enough for them.

Re:Faster than passenger train? (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 6 years ago | (#24315479)

bathroom of full service cafe.

Eww..remind me never to go in there :p

On the side of Michigan's Race Trailer.. (4, Interesting)

warpedrive (532727) | about 6 years ago | (#24318675)

.. 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.
 

Re:On the side of Michigan's Race Trailer.. (1)

greedyturtle (968401) | about 6 years ago | (#24319757)

It could be worse, we could base our national politics on who has the most money...

Who cares if they spent the most (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24324011)

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 involvement of the faculty and students. Why stop when you don't have to, always be the best you can.

Seems to me... (1)

Lifyre (960576) | about 6 years ago | (#24324177)

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:Seems to me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24327713)

funding-based difference

Re:Seems to me... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24350181)

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 the people willing to put in this ridiculous amount of effort. As a result, U-M's solar car project is not an engineering project, but rather a much more complex engineering/business/marketing cooperative effort.

Secondly, It is clear to me that technical expertise determined the outcome of this race. Money certainly helps to have when building something, but money does not design a reliable, efficient car. A few of my teammates were amused at the finish line of the race when we overheard a competitor explain to a spectator that we won because our solar car was built by GM. I can assure you that the car was designed and built by undergraduate students at the university. I remember long nights in computer labs, carbon fiber layups, and soldering for 10 hours straight every day for weeks. My former roommate did most of the body design... My current roommate designed and assembled the battery pack. Our former engineering crew chief has an allergy to carbon fiber from working with it too much. I remember using a dremel at times so late at night to do things so hairy that it should not even be mentioned.

The University of Michigan car spent about 20 minutes total, due to a flaky electrical connector, on the side of the road during the race. Other teams spent hours and hours on the side of the road for various reasons, usually electrical. Having designed and built most of the electrical system inside the U-M solar car, I know that our car worked well because of good engineering, craftsmanship and understanding of its behavior, not simply because of our "easy funding."

Re:Seems to me... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24371925)

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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