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Student Killed Driving Solar Car

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the unfortunate-firsts dept.

Education 847

Lev13than writes "Tragedy struck the University of Toronto's Blue Sky Solar Racing Team on Thursday when 21-year old student Andrew Frow was killed in a car accident. It appears that Frow lost control of the low-riding experimental car and was struck by a minivan head-on. The team was driving from Stratford to Waterloo (about an hour west of Toronto) as part of a tour of universities in Ontario and Quebec to mark the one-year anniversary of the 2003 Blackout. This is a big setback for solar power advocates, especially as the blackout anniversary will pass with remedial legislation stranded in Congress. More information on the accident is available here." The vehicle's design is not really street-safe - this will be a problem as more efficient, lighter cars share the road with Hummers.

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It's sad (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9960424)

Some people seem more concerned about the car.

It's not that sad (2, Insightful)

2names (531755) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960499)

The kid had to know that driving that car on the road with "regular" cars was the vehicular equivalent to entering an American Football game naked.

When it's Bus vs. Bicycle, the bus ALWAYS wins.

Re:It's sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9960537)

Did you even RTFA?

Re:It's sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9960555)

You must be new here.

Re:It's sad (5, Insightful)

iplayfast (166447) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960582)

Concern for the student, at this point is worthless (he's beyond that).
Concern for his family, is worthwhile.
Concern for his concerns is worthwhile.
Concern for the car is also worthwhile, since it is a positive concept that may be damaged by this tragic accident.

I hate all of you. (-1, Troll)

News For Turds (580751) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960427)

Fuck you all. Suck my dikc bizzatches!!!!

go to hell

Love always,
News For Turds

Kitchener-Waterloo Record Story (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9960429)

The most detailed story I've read about this was in The Kitchener-Waterloo Record [therecord.com] , which unfortunately is subscription-only. From a Google News search, I don't see the article duplicated anywhere, so I am copying and pasting the article here. (There were also two photos, which unfortunately can't be linked to. Perhaps someone else with a subscription can set up a mirror.) Andrew Frow, RIP. :-(

U of T student dies in solar car; Vehicle out of control near Waterloo Regulations being followed, police say

A University of Toronto student is dead after the solar car he was driving veered out of control on a highway just west of Waterloo Region yesterday afternoon.

Andrew Frow, 21, of Toronto was driving the university's team car east along Highway 7 and 8, from Stratford to Waterloo, as part of a Canadian solar car tour. The small low-riding car suddenly went out of control at about 4 30 p.m., veering across the centre line of the two-lane highway, said Constable Glen Childerley of Perth County Ontario Provincial Police.

The car then swerved back into its lane, hitting the right shoulder. It then plowed across the highway into the path of a minivan in the westbound lane.

"It zoomed right across the road and was T-boned by the van," said Childerley, adding the driver was alone in the solar car.

The impact destroyed the car. Its solar-panelled roof was flung off and its shell ended up in the ditch on the north side of the highway.

The driver's teammates rushed to his aid. The students were in two minivans, one driving in front of the solar car, one behind, when the crash occurred.

Two of his teammates frantically performed CPR on the young man as he lay in the wreckage, said truck driver David Hackett, who pulled up at the scene moments after the accident.

Hackett, a volunteer firefighter in his hometown of Maryhill, offered to take over from the visibly upset woman doing mouth-to- mouth.

"I'm just sorry we couldn't do more," said Hackett, who was delivering groceries to Stratford when he came across the crash.

"I am grateful for the training that I had and that I could respond."

Paramedics, Stratford firefighters and OPP soon arrived on the scene and took the driver by ambulance to another ambulance with a doctor and waiting medical team.

The crew took the young man to a Kitchener hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

After he was rushed away, police began inspecting the mangled wreckage in the ditch to determine why the crash occurred. That section of the highway was closed for hours as they worked.

Hunks of metal, some bearing the University of Toronto logo, were strewn across the grassy ditch.

As police worked, students on the U of T team huddled across the street, many hugging each other.

They did not want to talk to the news media last night.

Rudy Schoenhoeffer, who was driving the minivan that hit the solar car, was also there.

"I'm just saying a prayer for him," the Stratford man said quietly as he stood by his van, its front end dented.

He was on his way home from work in Cambridge when the crash occurred.

Jessica Whiteside, U of T's acting associate director of news services, said it was too early last night for anyone at the university to comment.

Childerley said solar cars have to get a special permit from the Ministry of Transportation to drive on roads and highways, and must travel with a regular vehicle in front and behind. Those vehicles must have flashing yellow lights on their roofs.

The U of T car was following these regulations.

Kitchener-Waterloo Record

[Photo] The U of T solar car drives along Western Rd. toward the University of Western Ontario in London yesterday. Later, near Waterloo, another driver lost control.

[Photo] OPP investigate the scene of the fatal solar car accident on Highway 7 and 8 near the town of Shakespeare, Ont., yesterday.

-1 Illegal Copyright Violation? (2, Insightful)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960533)

And for those of you who point out that information wants to be free, I'd say that the information itself is free. After all, there are innumerable places where you can get the facts of the case. If you want someone else to analyze the facts and call others to present testimony, that's available too, as copied above.

For a fee. Which is perfectly alright - these "value added" services cost money.

What? Not worth it? But you claim that it is "The most detailed story I've read about this." Sounds like the Record managed to add value to me...

fp! (-1, Offtopic)

codergeek42 (792304) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960430)

weee!!!

bad design, not the power (1, Insightful)

ack154 (591432) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960432)

This doesn't seem to be a setback so much for "solar power advocates" as there really wasn't anything wrong with the power itself, but seems the design of the car was bad...

Maybe make more sturdy solar cars?

Re:bad design, not the power (5, Insightful)

TiMac (621390) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960446)

Fairly tough to make a sturdy car that is also lightweight enough to be driven by low-power solar generation...

Re:bad design, not the power (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960483)

Kinda reminds me of me.
--Icarus

Re:bad design, not the power (4, Insightful)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960528)

It's not tough, but it is *expensive*.

strong, fast, cheap. Pick two.

Re:bad design, not the power (5, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960607)

This is exactly what I was going to say. In certain classes of racing (NASCAR in the post-earnhardt-sr. era, I believe) you are required to use a specified carbon fiber crash bumper which is multicellular and will dissipate truly insane amounts of energy. Of course, they're intensely expensive, but I'd say they're well worth it. When it becomes reasonably inexpensive to build such structures I think it will be both reasonable and expected for many light vehicles to be built of such things in perhaps three or four pieces, and when a piece is damaged to any degree it will have to be replaced. It might even be cheaper to give the car one big body and replace the whole thing if the car is in a collision, swapping the entire contents into a new car with a preinstalled wiring harness and fuel lines.

Such a vehicle will likely have plastic body panels on the outside, to protect from damage by rocks and such.

Re:bad design, not the power (0, Troll)

Nosf3ratu (702029) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960448)

Maybe the car companies should get government funding to develop more energy-concious cars?

Or, at the very least, stop getting funding from Big Oil.

Re:bad design, not the power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9960451)

or no more minivans! that would solve it!

Re:bad design, not the power (3, Informative)

js3 (319268) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960463)

nope it is a set back for them. Why are solar powered cars designed like that in the first place? Because there isn't enough power to move a normal car for any reasonable distance. Frankly that car was not street legal, it shouldn't have been allowed on the highway

Re:bad design, not the power (3, Interesting)

tatonca (305375) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960604)

"... Frankly that car was not street legal, it shouldn't have been allowed on the highway ..."

Except by not allowing them on the highway you remove the possibility of long distance endurance type competition. These races are important because they present challenges you won't necessarily have on a closed course - like construction, road conditions, inclement weather, and oncoming traffic...

Re:bad design, not the power (2, Insightful)

isorox (205688) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960629)

And a bike, or a motorbike, Which is even more vulnerable?

(For you hummer drivers out there, a pushbike is a human propelled vehicle with two wheels that, in cities, is pretty much the fastest form of transport for A-B you can have, faster then Motorbikes)

Re:bad design, not the power (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9960477)

Well obviously:
more sturdy == heavier
heavier == more energy needed
more engergy needed == more solar panels
more solar panels == bigger car
bigger car == heavier
repeat until the car is too big to fit on the road

Solar cars don't have a particularly good power/surface area ratio.

Re:bad design, not the power (1)

hookedup (630460) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960485)

The problem with that is, the more sturdy the car, the heavier it becomes.. and with solar energy not all that powerful, the cars need to be light as possible..

Re:bad design, not the power (5, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960516)

I vote let's not view this as a broader issue at all. A young researcher was killed in a tragic accident while driving an experimental vehicle. Why can't we just be bummed about it instead of speculating about what it means for solar power, or debating whether somebody should be sued.

Re:bad design, not the power (1)

stevesliva (648202) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960523)

Yeah, if solar power advocates are suffering a setback, gasoline advocates must really be in bad shape...

Re:bad design, not the power (2, Interesting)

Vaginal Discharge (706367) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960562)

In the pursuit of science, many men and women have given their lives. His death may yet save hundreds more. We should not let this setback restrain us from the further development of science and technology.

Early cars (in the 1920's and 1930's) were very dangerous indeed. Many people died before car companies finally decided to add safty equipment (like brakes). We have indeed come a long ways from that time. Eventually solar powered cars will be just as safe, if not safer than current vehicles.

umh (0, Flamebait)

borgdows (599861) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960433)

More information on the accident is available here.

can you post videos of the accident too please?

Re:umh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9960490)

They are there, next to your mother's ones

Hummers (1, Troll)

glam0006 (471393) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960444)

Maybe bulky, horribly inefficient vehicles like Hummers shouldn't be allowed on the road..

survived (0)

millahtime (710421) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960455)

if it were a hummer he was driving he would have survived.

Re:survived (2, Insightful)

radish (98371) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960610)

If the car he'd hit was as light as his own he also would have survived...

Re:Hummers (0, Redundant)

letxa2000 (215841) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960457)

The vehicle's design is not really street-safe - this will be a problem as more efficient, lighter cars share the road with Hummers.

Of course the standard environmentalist wacko response will be that we should get rid of the Hummers while, in reality, this just goes to show that cars that aren't street-safe shouldn't be driven on the street. Again, it seems that alternative energy vehicles aren't ready for prime-time. Someday, perhaps.

Re:Hummers (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9960553)

Off-topic? Environmentalist asshole!

Re:Hummers (3, Insightful)

yipper (159272) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960460)

With no trucks on the road, how will they deliver your new bigscreen HDTV?

Re:Hummers (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9960578)

On a small trailer towed behind your car.

Re:Hummers (1)

mrwonton (456172) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960631)

First off, it doesn't take a hummer to deliver your new bigscreen HDTV. A pickup truck that doesn't weigh 8,000 pounds will suffice. One issue with vehicles like hummers is that 99% of the time its being used to carry one or two people, and next to no other cargo. You don't need the massive behemoth that is a hummer to do that. Even using hummers to deliver HDTVs, the world would surely need fewer of them than currently prowl the street.

Re:Hummers (5, Interesting)

Nos. (179609) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960498)

I remember hearing or seeing something about moving the bumpers on SUVs and trucks lower so that if the impact with a regular car, the bumper will impact where the structure of the car was built to take an impact. I think a lot of the problems arise when the SUV is impacting where the car was not designed to withstand an impact, like above the door frame. Of course this probably wouldn't have made a difference in this case, but something that should be considered regardless.

Re:Hummers (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9960531)

The Volvo XC90 SUV has a specially designed bumper for just this purpose.

Re:Hummers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9960585)

Wait -- this happened in Canada. SUVs are strictly an American phenomenon, right? Oh Americans don't have a monopoly on stupidity? You wouldn't get that idea around here.

Re:Hummers (2, Insightful)

isorox (205688) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960587)

Just tax them at the damage they cause to the road. If a 1 ton car is taxed for $10, a hummer should be $10k (damage is proportinal to axle weight^4 IIRC)

Minivan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9960617)

A minivan is a far cry from a Hummer.

A sad lesson learned (0, Flamebait)

poison_reverse (647609) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960452)

this only goes to prove that soccer mom's are indeed evil.....

Mini-vans are EVIL!!! (0, Troll)

Donoho (788900) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960459)

Seriously...

They clog up the carpool lane (as well as any other you might want to pass in) and now they're striking out against advances in technology that would surely spell their demise...

doesn't matter if it's a hummer or not. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9960464)

It wouldn't matter if it hit the road with Yugos, it would still get crushed. An unsafe, feather-weight car will lose to anything -- not just a hummer. Nice attempt to jab at large vehicles.

Re:doesn't matter if it's a hummer or not. (4, Insightful)

letxa2000 (215841) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960521)

An unsafe, feather-weight car will lose to anything -- not just a hummer.

True, including a wall if the vehicle is traveling at any speed. The problem here was not the minivan. The problem was un un-streetworthy vehicle that had to forego safety in an attempt to achieve efficiency. I'm sure the same vehicle traveling at 40mph that ran into a wall would have killed the driver just as effectively.

This is more evidence of why we still use "inefficient" heavy vehicles. It's not just the efficiency of the vehicle that counts, but survivability in a crash.

So .. do we get rid of... (-1, Troll)

DeionXxX (261398) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960465)

So... do we get rid of HUMMER's or Solar Powered cars? Wouldn't common sense dictate that the bigger car is the threat and should be disallowed?

I don't know of economy car that could get in a head on collision with a HUMMER and the passenger survive.

I truly don't understand why the government allows such large cars/trucks share the road with small/midsize cars.

-- D3X

Go for both options (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9960539)

do we get rid of HUMMER's or Solar Powered cars?

Ban solar powered HUMMERS.

Re:So .. do we get rid of... (2, Insightful)

linuxpyro (680927) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960545)

I agree. The big vehicles have their uses, like towing big loads through rough terrain. But for just going to pick up groceries, come on... Maybe SUVs should have their own class of vehicle, with a different type of licence. Then they could be only permitted in certain areas, where they are actually the right tool for the job.

Re:So .. do we get rid of... (2, Insightful)

mikael (484) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960560)

So... do we get rid of HUMMER's or Solar Powered cars? Wouldn't common sense dictate that the bigger car is the threat and should be disallowed?

If your choice is HUMMER's then you should also ban vans, pickup trucks, single-decker and double decker buses, lorries, trucks, not forgetting Hackney taxi's, and anything else that's bigger than a HUMMER.

Re:So .. do we get rid of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9960568)

My solution for big SUVS and HUMMERS: make those fuckers get a truck driver license. Make them have to take special classes, learn how to drive big rigs. See how many soccer mommies go back to small cars then.

Re:So .. do we get rid of... (3, Insightful)

js3 (319268) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960602)

seriously your post is just ridicilous. The solar powered car crossed lanes into oncoming traffic. It has nothing to do with whether it was struck by a bigger car or not. It could have been a beetle or a trailer truck.. once you cross lanes there is almost no hope for you.

One could even argue highways ARE for large cars and trucks, not for little experimental vehicles that can't even stay on their own lane

Minivan, not Hummer (0)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960627)

According to TFA, it was a Chrysler minivan. So I'm not sure how getting rid of HUMMERs would have made a damned bit of difference. Besides, he lost control of the car to the point that it went into oncoming traffic - it could have been a barricade, or a ditch, and the outcome might have been the same. Those cars don't have to meet the current federal safety regs, you know.

I truly don't understand why the government allows such large cars/trucks share the road with small/midsize cars.

And you're in favor of the government dictating car size, to the point of needing separate road systems (otherwise, good luck getting any deliveries of anything) for minivans and small cars? Wow. Personally, I think the government has enough stuff going on right now, maybe even a bit too much in some areas...

Re:So .. do we get rid of... (1)

dekemoose (699264) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960628)

And I truly don't understand why the government allows such small/midsize cars to share the road with large cars/trucks.

Re:So .. do we get rid of... (1)

letxa2000 (215841) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960630)

So... do we get rid of HUMMER's or Solar Powered cars? Wouldn't common sense dictate that the bigger car is the threat and should be disallowed?

Should we also ban walls, signposts, stoplights which these unsafe solar powered cars can also crash into? The driver would have been equally dead if he had crashed into any of those obstacles in his vehicle at anything more than a minimal speed.

The problem here was NOT the minivan. Or even a Hummer, had it been a Hummer. The problem was an unsafe vehicle that was not streetworthy and would not have passed any government safety inspection for road-worthiness. It had no business being on the road.

How can you compare the two (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9960467)

Solar powered cars are not designed for the streets and really should not be on them. They are designed for competition.

Re:How can you compare the two (1, Informative)

linuxpyro (680927) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960612)

Well yes and no. You can't make a general statement that any car that is solar powered is only fit for competition. Right now the efficiency of photovoltaic cells makes it impractical to, for example, line your car roof with them. But solar cells with efficiencies in the 90% range are deffinately coming up soon. As the efficiency increases, then maybe we can start researching solar cars that will be more adapted for street driving.

R E S P E C T? (2, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960469)

Any head on collision has serious risks for fatalities. It's sad that all the hard work of a student who likely had a bright and shining future had to have his life ended so young but I didn't see the need for the comment about Hummers sharing the roads...

I have seen plenty of accidents with 15 passenger vans, two ton service vans, semis (which seem more common than Hummers), etc, that have just as bad (if not worse) impacts with other vehicles.

SUVs shouldn't really be a problem... (4, Informative)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960470)

After all, many of the most popular ones are banned [msn.com] from many roads in California and other states. Since its a MSN article, I''ll elaborate - they are popular because they are big enough to get the large truck for commercial use tax discount... which also happens to be the weight limit for restrictions on most residential streets in Californial (and other places).

Re:SUVs shouldn't really be a problem... (5, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960559)

Really we ought to require people who want to get a commercial use tax discount to have a commercial license. People driving with a commercial license are (supposedly) held to a higher standard than others, and can easily lose their license (or at least their commercial certification) if pulled over and cited for a traffic violation while driving anything, commercial or not.

Who's driving whom? (4, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960472)

"the vehicle lost control"

What was the steering mechanism in that experimental car? Drive by wire? What failed? The story would more accurately have specified a collision of an "experimental steering" car, than a solar car, unless the steering was conventional.

Re:Who's driving whom? (1)

tomee (792877) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960564)

According to the article it was the wind, which may have had an increased impact on the car since it's center of mass is higher, which actually sounds like a possible explanation to me. If there was enough wind to tip the car even slightly, the consequences may be pretty bad.

woo (0)

DeusExMalex (776652) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960473)

man, it must have been pretty low-riding for that minivan (higher than most everything else, save monster trucks and aircraft - thus able to see everything on the continent but whatever is in their blind spot) to not see the guy. perhaps underground?

Re:woo (2, Insightful)

TigerNut (718742) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960581)

RTFA... the solar car swerved across the road into oncoming traffic, directly in front of the minivan. Sometimes it doesn't matter what you can see and what you can't - by the time you can physically react, it's too late.

You see? (-1, Troll)

Kenja (541830) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960474)

You see that you hippies? Solar power is DANGEROUS! So just go back to filling your tank with dead dinosaurs like good little consumers.

wha??? (1)

m00by (605070) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960484)

will be a problem as more efficient, lighter cars share the road with Hummers.???

more efficient lighter cars already DO share the road with Hummers. I call them, NOT SUV's =D but really, the solar cars aren't designed with crashes in mind, since they are usually not in traffic. plus they have to stay light to be able to move at all :)

exactly the opposite (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9960614)

I am a member of a solar car team and these cars are built with saftey as teh first prioritry the roll cage that surounded this driver had to pass a number of regulations and is declared legal by both teh us and canadin DOT. And they are almost always in traffic as they are street legal. The down side is the light weight of the car its not going to win agins something over 5 times it weight. But my thouhgts are with the team and the drivers family.

Money (0, Troll)

lucky_thirteen (803370) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960487)

It seems to be the American way to be wasteful these days.

Re:Money (1)

JamesKPolk (13313) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960549)

Typical, you're too blinded with hate to notice that this event took place in Canada.

Too blinded with hate to be bothered with facts, I guess.

Sad, sad day. (5, Interesting)

Tr0mBoNe- (708581) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960491)

I am good friends with some of the designers of that car. Hell... I even helped carry the solar panels into the conference building in Scarbrough in January where I met them. It is truly tragic, and my heart goes out to them. That is the problem with this kind of tragedy... this car was designed for racing and not highway travel competing for road space with Cadillacs.

Rest in peace Andrew, and keep them strong Raja.

more info (-1, Offtopic)

millahtime (710421) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960496)

So, was he talking on a cell, reading something... anyting like that? That makes a difference.

I would have thought (1)

skammie (802503) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960497)

that a highway patrol car or some other law enforcement type vehicle would have accompanied the convoy. It's terrible to hear about the student's death.

Stratford to Waterloo (0, Troll)

isorox (205688) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960502)

Should have taken the Jubilee line

NHTSA (2, Interesting)

Iberian (533067) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960503)

The problem has nothing to do with the power source, but all to do with the structural design developed to increase vehicle range. If solar vehicles cannot be made to pass the same crash tests as all other vehicles then perhaps we can convert the carpool lanes into solar lanes. Obviously this will have to wait until oil hits 100 a barrel and people start buying solar powered cars.

Experimental vehicles (4, Insightful)

phyruxus (72649) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960504)

This kid died a hero. He lost his life as a test pilot, and in a vehicle design that is the very image of progess and green compliance.

He may not have been returning from orbit, or travelled at supersonic speed. But his shadow will always be a mile long.

WTF?!? (5, Insightful)

Dr. Bent (533421) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960505)

this will be a problem as more efficient, lighter cars share the road with Hummers.

Sure, lets blame the big, bad, SUV because your car is unsafe. I realize that the Hummer is the mortal enemy of solar car advoates everywhere but how is this possibly relevant? If you follow that logic we should ban Semi-trucks from the road as well. We've got to make it safe for experimental solar car vehicles, right?

Gimme a break. This is a tragedy, and you're trying to spin in into an anti-SUV infomercial.

I sure wish I had mod points. +5 Insightful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9960550)


Re:WTF?!? (1)

dinivin (444905) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960594)


Where did anyone place blame on the SUV? They just made an observation about lighter cars sharing the road with bigger/heavier cars.

hybrid cars (1)

prospero14 (233659) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960512)

Why can't solar-powered cars be built using modern safety technology? What do seatbelts, airbags, crumple zones, etc have to do with the type of fuel the car uses?

I suppose that in many head-on collisions, the mass of the engine itself does a great deal to protect the driver. But surely solar-powered cars can be more massive?

Re:hybrid cars (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960565)

They can't be because the extra safety technology adds too much weight to the car. Solar powered cars have to be light because the output from the cells isn't high enough to push something that weighed as much as a normal car.

Comment on University of Waterloo's general newsgr (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9960513)

Just reposting a comment that got my goat on UW's general discussion board requarding this.

> > Solar cars from five university teams will be on display later today
> > at the Student Life Centre. The appearanace is part of the _Canadian
> > Solar Tour,_ an event sponsored by the Government of Ontario, and VIA
> > RAIL Canada. The cars are travelling from Windsor to Quebec, and will ...
> Apparently one of the cars didn't make it here. That must put a damper on
> the whole event.

And perhaps put a few people back in touch with reality?

Every time I see these solar car things, I'm reminded of the saying
"Little boys play with little toys, and big boys play with big toys.".

Supposedly the purpose of all these events is to promote solar
energy as a viable alternative to conventional energy sources.
That's certainly an admirable goal, but the whole point seems
to have been lost to the participants long ago.

As an exercise for engineering students, designing and building
such a vehicle can be a valuable experience, but solar energy
is only a small part of the project, and it seems silly to me
to think that these events, in any way but the most superficial,
actually promote the practical use of solar energy.

If that were the real goal, the projects would spend nearly all
their time working on the energy part of the task. But instead
nearly all the time is spent on making the projects look like
solar energy is practical. i.e. they have to completely design
and build the entire vehicle from the ground up, totally ignoring
a hundred years of engineering that have already gone into modern
passenger vehicles. Almost all the effort goes not into the
solar aspect of the vehicle, but into designing something that will
go faster and farther than other similarly designed vehicles.
i.e. extreme streamlining, removing as much weight as possible,
providing as little passenger and cargo space as possible, etc.
It becomes a contest to see who can design the most energy-efficient
vehicle, with solar power itself becoming the constant factor rather
than the variable that they really should be trying to improve.

If solar energy were the real goal, they would start with a
standard passenger vehicle (a mini, or a truck, or anything between)
and put 90% of the work into making that work with solar energy
as the primary power supply. That would be a true demonstration
of its practicality, and would put the experimentation back into
solar energy research rather than into aerodynamics, etc.

But instead, they spend most of the time reinventing the wheel,
and in the process throwing out such things as passenger and
cargo capacity, not to mention the safety and road-worthiness
with which modern commercial vehicles are packed, and with which
these toys are obviously not. I wonder why they are even allowed
to drive on public roads (except as a parade float).

In terms of energy efficiency, these vehicles are accompanied by
several support vehicles, all conventionally fueled. The result
is an expensive, slow, and unsafe vehicle that transports one person
with no luggage, and burns ten times as much gasoline as would a
small inexpensive car.

In terms of promoting the practical use of solar energy,
this project has just proven what a joke it always was.
It's just unfortunate that it had to happen in the way it did,
and we can only hope that it hasn't hurt its alleged goal too much.

Re:Comment on University of Waterloo's general new (1)

HebrewToYou (644998) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960620)

Right on the damn money!
Good for you for saying what need to be said.

There are better alternatives than solar power -- lets wait and see how they turn out.

Anti SUV Bias (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9960518)

Somebody is killed in a collision with a soccer-mom-friendly mini-van, and the knee-jerk reaction is to badmouth SUVs.

damn u sun (1, Funny)

dragonbide (805225) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960519)

I never did trust the sun anyways, being the cave dwelling gnome I am.

Why Lightwight Solar? (1)

iplayfast (166447) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960530)

I'm wondering why the solar cars are always made lightweight.

A heavier car, once in motion, takes no more power to keep in motion then a light weight car, right?

The energy used to get a heavier car into motion, can be recaptured in the stopping of it.

I suppose there is energy lost in the transfer of starting/stopping, but is that enough of a loss to make the cars unworkable?

In a word (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960619)

Yes.

At least with current solar technology.

Street Safty (0)

tkw954 (709413) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960534)

The vehicle's design is not really street-safe - this will be a problem as more efficient, lighter cars share the road with Hummers.

This may be off-topic, but I think someone has to ask whether it's more in the public's interest to armour the fuel-efficient cars so they can withstand a Hummer, or make the Hummers more safe to get hit by.

Canadians lose by a broken neck... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9960535)

Guess they ddn't win. Maybe the glare off of the sun-craft blinded the mini-van driver?
Mini-Van 1, flimsy Icarus Conveyence 0.

Bikes (3, Insightful)

isorox (205688) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960542)

will be a problem as more efficient, lighter cars share the road with Hummers.???

Dont know about america, but in the rest of the world we have 44 ton trucks, 3 ton vans, 2 ton cars, and 200lb bikes sharing the road, and we seem to cope pretty well.

Well thank god.. (1)

Valiss (463641) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960546)

....no one has ever died in a gas-powered card. It might stop the production of them all together!!

Re:Well thank god.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9960611)

....no one has ever died in a gas-powered card. It might stop the production of them all together!!

You mean I don't need two power connectors for my NVidia card any more? I just top it up with fuel oil once a week?

are we sure it was as it seems (1)

millahtime (710421) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960547)

was there some good lookin hunnie walking by that distracted him. if so, then the real fault was in the low cut tank tops of today.

Why did this happen? (1)

jivany (101917) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960552)

Anyone else wondering why the solar vehicle was on a public road with oncoming traffic at high enough speed to not be able to react to an out-of-control solar vehicle?

I'm just guessing that the solar vehicle wouldn't be licensed/registered for on-road use without some form of police escort or other safety measures. From the articles, it doesn't seem this is the case.

It doesn't really matter what kind of vehicle hit the solar vehicle. It could have been a Miata and the poor student would likely still be dead.

Solar Cars A Step in the Right Direction (0)

UMhydrogen (761047) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960556)

Forbes Magazine had an article this month describing Americans dependance on foreign oil and how we could break our habit of needing it. Solar Panel cars are a great step in the right direction to getting away from having to use oil. Not only is it much better for our environment, but we also get rid of the dependence on foreign imports. Maybe we wouldn't have had all the Iraq hooplah if we didn't need all their oil. Although gas companies would be crippled, the employees could get jobs somewhere else.

I don't see solar powered cars becoming the norm since night time would basically put them out of commission, but I could see some type of hybrid. It would be nice to see a solar/electric/gas powered hybrid at some point. In other news, the University of Michigan has a superb solar car team [umich.edu] that competes in international competitions every year. They have won the national championship three years and finished 3rd in the world twice. Hopefully the trajedy that happened at UToronto doesn't happen again.

Not fair (1)

hckrdave (588951) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960561)

Its not fair to slam Hummers like that. Those cars are so light that my Hyunda would have prb done the same thing. ;-(

There's an interesting meta-point here! (3, Insightful)

callipygian-showsyst (631222) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960563)

One of the reasons people don't want to drive smaller, alternative fuel, or just plain efficient cars, is that these smaller cars don't stand a chance when hit by some women gabbing on the phone in her SUV!

Maybe the real answer is to get these SUVs and minivans off the road, and establish weight and bumper-height limits for cars.

Ligher Cars (1)

bombadillo (706765) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960567)

If everyone drove light cars then accidents would be much less destructive. The majority of people seem to be ignorant of simple physics. Momentum is what kills not Speed. People flock to big cars for a percieved saftey. Sure they have the advantage when the hit a small light car. However, when they hit with another vehicle of equal size then their size advantage is negated. Not to mention that a bigger car will be at a disadvantage at deffensive manuvers when compared to a small car. I would guess that you are more likely to hit a big car on the American roads than a small car.

Article seems to imply he overcompensated (2)

larsoncc (461660) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960570)

This is a pretty tragic accident - and the article reminds me of one of those "safety first" videos that I had to watch during driver's ed.

He may have fully lost control of the vehicle, but reading the article made it seem like the vehicle started to veer.

In the snowier states, you're taught how to recover from a veering or fishtailing vehicle. Let off the acceleration, and straighten the wheel out. Make SMALL corrective maneuvers.

It's very easy to get panicked in these situations - your car veers one direction, and you're tempted to veer the opposite way. Unfortunately, this often worsens the situation, as power steering is far more powerful than your instincts may "feel."

Likewise, this was a pretty light vehicle.

Regardless of how this happened, it's terrible to see. And serves as a reminder to keep ourselves alert and alive on the road.

Close to Home (3, Informative)

barryfandango (627554) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960572)

The convoy was supposed to stop here at our company [comtekadvanced.com] this afternoon because we helped the McMaster University team build "Fireball II." I just found out this morning that today's stop, along with the rest of the tour had been called off due to the accident. Looks like it was a mechanical failure of some kind in U of T's vehicle, and what a tragedy. The engineering student who died was only 21.

The tour was planned to coincide with the one year anniversary of the 2003 blackout, to remind people that we ought to be looking into alternative energy sources. These young engineers are really passionate about these projects and our thoughts are with them at what must be a really tough time.

Hummers aren't the problem (1)

leroybrown (136516) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960575)

this will be a problem as more efficient, lighter cars share the road with Hummers

So once you get all the Humvee's off the road, are you going to go after the tractor trailers which weigh many times more and are far greater in number?

Well, it's quite obvious really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9960584)

This tragedy has nothing to do with driving a rediculously small, light and unsafe "vehicle" on public roadways. Indeed, this is the fault of conservatives, big-oil and the minivan itself. Evil petroliate loving danger mongers.

Really Weird... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9960589)

As a staff person in the counselling area at University of Toronto who was just told about this only half an hour ago, it was really weird to fire up /. just now and see this as the top story. This is heartbreaking news...

Was this bicycle technology? (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 10 years ago | (#9960593)

Too many of those "solar vehicles" have way too much stuff running on bicycle-type wheels and frame. They get carried away with weight reduction.

They should be using components appropriate to the scale of the vehicle. Motorcycle components, at least.

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