Student Killed Driving Solar Car
It is incredibly sad that the substance of the debate here is whether there should be large cars on the road, and on who is ultimately to blame for this tragedy. (The entire discussion can be summarized as follows: somebody threw in a typical Hummer insult, SUV owners became defensive and started saying silly things about research not having a place in the world, everyone comes out looking like insensitive clods)
This won't be the end of solar racing, although it will be a significant setback for the Toronto team. They have lost a friend, a teammate and many, many, many hours of work, spent not only building their car but also convincing people that their cause is worth supporting. The team has a solid history--they placed 11th in the 2003 American Solar Challenge (and won the saftey award), 12th in ASC2001, 14th in WSC2001, and they were the top rookie team in SunRayce 1999 (info from their website).
I imagine that the future will see a serious review of solar car saftey rules, which will result in changes to the specifications for solar cars as well as the conditions under which they should be driven. Even though solar powered cars are not the way of the future, the sport has led to the develompent of new technologies that are nevertheless important (the world's most effiecient electric motors and maximum power point trackers), and it teaches young engineers far more about engineering than they could possibly learn in any other way.
A public show of support (and /. counts as these days) is really what the BlueSky team needs right now. Then, after the incident has been properly observed, a respectful review of the causes and solutions should get underway.
Yale Solar Racing