Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

World Solar Challenge 2011 Starts In Two Weeks

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the aussies-know-transportation dept.

Transportation 58

First time accepted submitter SustainableJeroen writes "In less than two weeks the bi-annual World Solar Challenge will start. Around forty teams, mostly made up of university students from around the globe, will battle each other for first place in the de facto world championship of solar car racing. The teams will race each other on the 3000km Stuart highway between Darwin and Adelaide, while dodging road trains, dust devils and kangaroos. The fastest teams will cover this distance in four to five days, while it is by no means certain that all teams will make it to the finish line. In 2009, the Tokai University team from Japan unexpectedly took first place in this high-tech brain sport, with four-time winner Nuon Solar Team having to settle for second place. Who will win this edition? There are a number of very strong contenders, but as the differences among the top teams and their cars are very, very small it's impossible to say in advance."

cancel ×

58 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Don't read this... it is a curse... (-1, Offtopic)

pewpewness (2475350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37585762)

In 2006, a little boy named Zach was sitting in the back seat of his mother's car whilst they were driving home from the grocery store. In his hand, he held a ventriloquist dummy named Slappy. Zach was rocking Slappy back and forth in his arms as if Slappy was a baby. Then, suddenly, he tried to throw Slappy out the window. However, Slappy latched onto the side of the car and climbed back in faster than Zach could even believe! Zach apologized profusely and Slappy eventually forgave him.

Then, when Zach finally arrived home, he somehow locked Slappy in his mom's car, ran up on his porch, and then proceeded to point and laugh at the seemingly hopeless situation that Slappy was in. This action proved to be a mistake, however. In an event that completely took Zach by surprise, Slappy turned into a twinkling star that couldn't have been much bigger than a few inches, flew directly through the car door, and then went right into Zach's bootyass!

Still stunned at this unexpected development, Zach heard Slappy saying, from the inside of his bootyass, "Iiiiiiit's suuuuuuuuuuuppeeeer tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime!" Then, before Zach could even react to those malice-filled words, Slappy began saying, "rarara!" Slappy was consuming all of the feces in Zach's bootyass, inflicting major tickle upon it! Zach, in a desperate attempt to make the tickle stop, ran into his mom's garden and began rubbing dirt in his face. The tickle, however, only worsened...

Now that you have read this (even a single word of it), Slappy will turn into a twinkling star, fly into your bootyass, and then consume all of this feces inside it (inflicting major tickle upon your bootyass)! To prevent this from happening, post this curse as a comment three times.

Go Dutchies! (1)

Leon Buijs (545859) | more than 2 years ago | (#37585818)

Being Dutch, I feel a little proud that our tiny country has come so far in these races, between all those high-tech equipped teams :)

Re:Go Dutchies! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37585946)

You'd have to be Dutch to be impressed by stupid shit like this.

Re:Go Dutchies! (1)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 2 years ago | (#37585992)

You guys should make some solar powered bicycles with GPS systems and 4G wireless. Then when somebody borrows your bike in Amsterdam, you can push the "Home" button and your bike autopilots back to its docking station at home.

Re:Go Dutchies! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37586002)

I would assume a small western democracy would have a better chance than a larger country at winning something like this.

Re:Go Dutchies! (1)

Gertlex (722812) | more than 2 years ago | (#37587118)

What? You mean yay for your high-tech equipped team that competes with lesser-tech equipped teams?

Re:Go Dutchies! (1)

Leon Buijs (545859) | more than 2 years ago | (#37588154)

If you watch the races and follow the endless preparations you'll see that it's not just high tech vs high tech. It's just as much about creativity, timing, endless preparation, testing, determination, planning, blood sweat and tear and plain ol' elbow grease.

Re:Go Dutchies! (1)

Gertlex (722812) | more than 2 years ago | (#37591592)

I raced in the last race, actually (UMichigan).

Was just saying that Nuon's teams aren't underdogs by any definition I can think of (prior to getting 2nd in 2009). :)

Re:Go Dutchies! (1)

Leon Buijs (545859) | more than 2 years ago | (#37593542)

Well then! :) In Holland, often the budgets for stuff like this is too small to do anything significant so I think it's nice that they found a serious sponsor for once and get some attention. Besides, it's a good subject. I can't wait for electric vehicles to become a regular phenomena.. Never gonna buy a car or motorcycle on gas again.

Re:Go Dutchies! (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 2 years ago | (#37587910)

When you know the Dutch weather, I am very surprised they're good at something related to solar energy.

Root for the S car (1)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 2 years ago | (#37585862)

It's famous for being slow, but I like underdogs.

S car go! S car go!

Re:Root for the S car (1)

elsurexiste (1758620) | more than 2 years ago | (#37586236)

S car go! S car go!

Mmmm, "S car go"? Is this a pun about snails?

Slashdot really is dead... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37585868)

Can you guys fix the white text on white background thing for those of us with white on black desktop themes? You know, I'd fix it locally via userContent.css but I get tired of doing web designers jobs for them every time I move machine or do a fresh install. Rookie mistake easily solved with a single CSS declaration.

Then there's this bullshit comments system you now have. The one that doesn't work at all for those ACs like myself who refuse to enable script. The only reason to enable script for a site like this is if the server code is broken and it so clearly is.

Wonder why nobody takes this site seriously any more...? I'm wondering why I still bother checking the front page of a site that doesn't even have a functional comments system.

Re:Slashdot really is dead... (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#37585928)

man up, log in we dont bite (much)

Yeah. Take the easy challenge (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 2 years ago | (#37585988)

Lets see them run their vehicles in the UK. Then we'll see the true value of solar.

Re:Yeah. Take the easy challenge (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37586704)

Lets see them run their vehicles in the UK. Then we'll see the true value of solar.

If the "true value" of anything were measured by how well it functions in the UK, the world would be pretty thoroughly screwed ;-).

Re:Yeah. Take the easy challenge (1)

swb (14022) | more than 2 years ago | (#37586838)

That is a bit harsh, but what problem exactly are the solar car racers attempting to solve? Solar is eons away from being a power source for cars anyone could actually use.

Is there an application here for solar power or automobiles that's unique?

Re:Yeah. Take the easy challenge (2)

evilviper (135110) | more than 2 years ago | (#37587540)

Solar is eons away from being a power source for cars anyone could actually use.

Not at all. What's the #1 complaint about electric cars we currently have? RANGE. Now your car doesn't have enough surface area to be powered entirely by solar, but if it could extend your range by 10%, or maybe tip the scales so you don't have to plug-in at the office (or the beach, the park, the store, etc) to make it home, it would be a huge plus. How about just float-charging batteries, or providing sufficient power than infrequently used vehicles don't need to be plugged-in?

Re:Yeah. Take the easy challenge (2)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37588990)

I think even that 10% is a pretty long ways off.

When I watch footage of this stuff, I get visions of those films of early flying contraptions. That is where we are at. I think solar is the future, but I think we are quite far from practical usage in cars and homes.

Re:Yeah. Take the easy challenge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37589048)

Except that the energy density of oil-based fuels allowed the contraptions to become what we see now. Solar does not permit that.

Re:Yeah. Take the easy challenge (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37589440)

Solar does not permit that.

Last I checked, the best solar panels were somewhere in the area of 17% to 18% efficiency. Seems to me there is still too much room for improvement to start making definite statements like that.

Re:Yeah. Take the easy challenge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37590860)

But even if they're 100% efficient, and you have 100% efficient motors, well, how big is your car's roof? How long does the Sun shine? And how long have solar panels stayed at the same levels? Months, years? DECADES? Oh yeah....

You're going to have to work very hard to compete with what oil allowed us to achieve. And "compete" in the sense of "lose". We'll never see something like the Industrial Revolution and airplanes again, at least until we allow bio/geological processes to create more oil.

Re:Yeah. Take the easy challenge (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37592620)

I agree it's unlikely we'll see cars directly powered by only solar. I can see solar being used to re-charge batteries while the car isn't moving. My car sits in a parking lot out in the sun for about 8 hours a day while I'm at work, in preparation for a 25 minute drive. I can see that working.

On the subject of batteries, this is where the tech really needs to improve. The current state of batteries is they mostly suck. Once we start seeing light weight batteries that hold more energy than gas per weight, that's when we'll see electric cars adopted by the masses.

Re:Yeah. Take the easy challenge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37598824)

Even if you get 100% efficiency the surface of a car will give you around 10kW. Solar maxes out too soon.

Re:Yeah. Take the easy challenge (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 2 years ago | (#37587634)

To me it's a bit like the space race. What has putting a man on the moon brought to mankind? A lot - but the moon rocks and pretty TV images and photos are not the most interesting part of it.

These solar cars have quite some interesting challenges that I can think of as total layman. I think of the solar cells itself: getting more power from less surface area. New materials: stronger and lighter, while still easy machinable. Aerodynamics are an issue. The power train: converting light into motion efficiently. And of course the sheer engineering challenge that puts people's brains to work.

Many of this kind of challenges won't have any direct practical application. But they will have longer term advantages: the research being done may be put to use in totally different areas, it makes people think in a totally different way opening up their minds, whatever. And "solar powered car" sounds good. Many people like cars, and having a car that runs "for free", without any external power input, well that speaks to the imagination of many. The futuristic models that you see there do too.

Re:Yeah. Take the easy challenge (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#37588130)

In theory. In practice, this race is entered by teams of penniless students who spunk most of their budget on shipping their piles of commodity parts half way around the world. R&D is great, but this is all D and no R.

Shoebox vs Road train (1)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 2 years ago | (#37586048)

Having just travelled the bulk of this route in relative automotive comfort I'm not sure I'd be happy to put myself in a shoebox and run the gauntlet of road trains and roos (although I saw more camels than kangas). Road trains shake even largish vehicles as they pass.

Re:Shoebox vs Road train (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37587774)

Any drop bears?

Re:Shoebox vs Road train (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37587786)

Of course I thought of this about 3 seconds after I hit submit.
What happens when to road trains pass each other going in opposite directions? There has to be some type of nasty vortex between the 2 of them.

Re:Shoebox vs Road train (1)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 2 years ago | (#37587840)

Care to do the experiment and report back?

Re:Shoebox vs Road train (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597340)

If you'll pay my airfare to Australia, sure! Always wanted to see a drop bear....

Re:Shoebox vs Road train (1)

hvm2hvm (1208954) | more than 2 years ago | (#37593238)

It's called the Bernouli effect and it causes the trains to get sucked into each other. That's why you are supposed to slow down when going alongside another vehicle in the opposite direction. Too much speed + too little distance might slam you in the other one.

Re:Shoebox vs Road train (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597350)

Thanks for naming it, best I could come up with off the top of my head was 'vortex.' I've driven past semis, and I can feel some effects, but in the scaled up version I wasn't sure if it would be magnified or not. (I'm not a physics guy.)

Drop in the bucket! Miracles needed. (2)

jmactacular (1755734) | more than 2 years ago | (#37586122)

This is cool from an engineering perspective, but solar panel tech is a drop in the energy density bucket. We need revolutionary leaps forward in science here. You can help, add your name to the White House petition. There are several other petitions you might find of interest as well...

Direct NASA/DARPA-E to begin the next Manhattan project to invent a new domestic energy source that gets a 1,000 MPGE.
http://wh.gov/ghD [wh.gov]

Abolish the TSA, and use its monstrous budget to fund more sophisticated, less intrusive counter-terrorism intelligence.
http://wh.gov/gRT [wh.gov]

Direct the Patent Office to Cease Issuing Software Patents
http://wh.gov/gEm [wh.gov]

Legalize and Regulate Marijuana in a Manner Similar to Alcohol.
http://wh.gov/gDQ [wh.gov]

Re:Drop in the bucket! Miracles needed. (1)

jmactacular (1755734) | more than 2 years ago | (#37587252)

Marked as Troll??? Are you kidding me?? What kind of moron moderators do we have on here?

jmactacular = -1 Useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37589580)

Mods that know [1] Internet petitions are worth their equivalent weight in used toilet paper and [2] know that the TSA, software patents and your need for some mary jane to escape reality have nothing to do with energy policy.

Montreal? (1)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | more than 2 years ago | (#37586160)

I know ETS in Montreal has a solar car, where is it on that list? ETS itself says they'll be there.

http://www.etsmtl.ca/nouvelles/2011/Voiture-solaire [etsmtl.ca]

http://translate.google.ca/translate?sl=fr&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.etsmtl.ca%2Fnouvelles%2F2011%2FVoiture-solaire&act=url [google.ca]

Anyways, I work 5 minutes from ETS, maybe I can drop by tomorrow and take a look.

Re:Montreal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37587650)

The car's on its way to Australia, so yes they're participating.

Dust devils? (1)

Jeremy Visser (1205626) | more than 2 years ago | (#37586798)

We don't have dust devils in Australia [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Dust devils? (1)

lazybeam (162300) | more than 2 years ago | (#37587176)

I assumed a "dust devil" was something like the dunes migrating themselves over the highway, LOL. At least your link translates the term to the proper "willy-willy".

Re:Dust devils? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37587376)

no, we have willy willies

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willywilly

Don't forget the 2011 Solar Decathalon (2)

jrifkin (100192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37586812)

This bears some resemblance to another competition, the 2011 Solar Decathalon, that just finished its week on the National Mall in Washington DC.

Each team designed and built a 900+ square foot energy efficient home over the past two years, and then shipped them to DC to display them for the week.

It was sponsored by the Department of Energy. Nineteen universities participated; 15 from the US and 4 from other countries; Canada, Belgium, New Zealand (the third place winner) and China.

You can see more about it here, http://www.solardecathlon.gov./ [www.solardecathlon.gov]

Re:Don't forget the 2011 Solar Decathalon (1)

WeatherServo9 (1393327) | more than 2 years ago | (#37590276)

Small correction, the 2011 Solar Decathlon was held in West Potomac Park and not the National Mall (previous years were on the National Mall). This will be the last year it is held in the D.C. area apparently.

Tesla 501km range (1)

mathew42 (2475458) | more than 2 years ago | (#37587000)

In the Global Green Challenge 2009 (sister event), Simon Hackett drove a world record distance of 501km. You can read about it on the internode blog [on.net] . Internode are sponsoring [on.net] the World Solar Challenge this year, but no Tesla :(.

Environmentally friendly cars (0)

capsclothings (2475466) | more than 2 years ago | (#37587214)

Environmentally friendly cars That is a bit harsh, but what problem exactly are the solar car racers attempting to solve? Solar is eons away from being a power source for cars anyone could actually use.http://www.caps-clothings.com

Checks WebBox... (1)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | more than 2 years ago | (#37587316)

Total yield: 15.79 MWh

How'm I doing?

Go Bears! (1)

Europe (2036436) | more than 2 years ago | (#37587576)

Some of my college buddies are on the CalSol team, best of luck to them :)

Solar cars aren't viable, but that isn't the point (3, Interesting)

grimsnaggle (1320777) | more than 2 years ago | (#37587644)

I am the previous captain of the Stanford team and will be following the team across the outback again this year as a groupie. Racing itself is arguably the least important part of the overall race effort. While it allows you to choose winners and losers, on its own it doesn't contribute much to the overall solar car team experience. The race is only a few days long, but the effort to get there takes years.

To all of you criticizing the value of solar cars: The point of solar racing isn't to prove that solar cars are a viable mode of transportation. It's to be an extreme engineering exercise for students. Through it they learn project management, budget management, marketing, engineering optimization, teamwork, and real-world design skills. It takes an immense amount of thinking and excellent execution to build a car that weighs a few hundred pounds that can cruise down the freeway at 65 mph all day long on the power of a toaster and that doesn't break after bumping through the desert for thousands of miles.

For what it's worth, Tesla Motors was born out of the Stanford solar car team. Their first battery pack was made in our shop years ago as part of JB's retrofit of his old Porsche. Mission Motors owes quite a bit of its heritage to solar car racing as well, with its founders coming from the Stanford and Yale teams.

If any of you are in the SF bay area, I encourage you to come take a look at one of these cars in person. Our latest entry, Xenith, will be back on campus in January and we enjoy hosting visitors. Just send an email through the form on the Stanford Solar Car Project website [stanford.edu] .

Re:Solar cars aren't viable, but that isn't the po (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#37588138)

The first year, yes. Fess up, you just used last year's car and shaved another quarter mm off the GRP, right?

Re:Solar cars aren't viable, but that isn't the po (1)

Tesla Tank (755530) | more than 2 years ago | (#37590814)

Hey, I'm a member of the solar car team from University of Toronto, we're also racing this year. Were you around for the 2007 WSC?

Unfortunately, I can't go to the race personally. You're lucky that you get to go as an alumni. Good luck to you guys! Say hi to the UofT team if you see them, they're a friendly bunch. :) (maybe a little disgruntled from the work and lack of sleep)

Re:Solar cars aren't viable, but that isn't the po (1)

ender06 (913978) | more than 2 years ago | (#37595904)

Hey Tesla Tank, I raced on the Michigan team in the 2007 WSC, were you there?

I'd love to go back to Australia and follow the race...

Re:Solar cars aren't viable, but that isn't the po (1)

Tesla Tank (755530) | more than 2 years ago | (#37620078)

No, I joined after the 2007 race. But I've heard all the stories from the previous team members.

Yeah it would be amazing to go to the WSC, but unfortunately, other things get in the way. :(

Are you still in touch with the Michigan team?

World Solar Challenge 2011 Starts In Two Weeks (2)

lewko (195646) | more than 2 years ago | (#37587686)

Or three, if it's cloudy.

Re:World Solar Challenge 2011 Starts In Two Weeks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37589244)

We run with 5kWh of batteries, and can still do decent speeds on them. As much as everyone likes to poke fun at solar cars, they're actually just highly efficient electric cars with solar panels on top to charge the batteries.

Go Tokai! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37587848)

Ore wa tada no ryuugakusei datta kedo, Toukai Daigaku de ii omoide wo takusan dekimashita!
Kyonen no kengakusai no toki, Challenger wo minna-san ni misete kurete, arigatou gozaimasu!
Konkai mo katetara ii naa!!

Ganbatte Toukai Dai!! 3
Dekiru kagiri ouen shimasu!!

Bi-annual != every two years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37589278)

Biennial is the right word.

Call me a pedant, but when I read the post the first thing that I thought was, "Wow! They hold this thing really often."

Really? (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#37590526)

"but as the differences among the top teams and their cars are very, very small it's impossible to say in advance"

So *that's* why they run the race?

Huh.

Cambridge team manager talks World Solar Challenge (1)

kenekaplan (2426100) | more than 2 years ago | (#37608682)

"When you look at our car, you think that the only technology on it is the solar panels, but that's definitely not the case," said team manager Emil Hewage. "This car actually drives and thinks at the same time. It requires masses and masses of data to run the car properly." Video and photos http://j.mp/rdvmgJ [j.mp] .
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?