Feeds

Sun-seeking Cambridge boffins chase Solar Challenge car crown

Brit race hopes hinge on radical tilting panel design

Intelligent flash storage arrays

World Solar Challenge Next Sunday sees the starter's flag fall on the 2013 World Solar Challenge, and on the grid in Darwin will be Cambridge University Eco Racing's Resolution - a sleek carbon-fibre monocoque chassis solar-powered vehicle, featuring a "game-changing" solar tracking system.

Artist's rendering of Resolution in the Outback. Pic: Cambridge University Eco Racing

Fun in the sun ... a rendering of the Resolution

The traditional Solar Challenge contender, such as the University of Michigan's Generation, relies on fixed solar panels splayed over a large upper surface. The race's big guns have plenty of money to splash on acres of panelage, but cash-strapped Cambridge's design addressed both fiscal and time constraints.

Team manager Keno Mario-Ghae told El Reg: "We knew quite early on that with our budget and only working on the project part time, there is no way we could beat the top teams at their own game (the flat table top). We have to do something radically different and have a better design which is capable of victory."

Cue a slimmed-down profile and tilting solar panels, which are controlled for optimum gathering angle according to time of day and direction of travel.

A graphic showing the various components of Resolution

Mario-Ghae elaborated: "The tracking plate is a novel way for us to increase the amount of energy we can collect each day. By tracking the sun, over the course of the day you increase energy in by 20 per cent over a flat non-tracking array.

"The tracking plate system itself is quite light at slightly over 15kg. However, it isn't really possible to directly compare it to a table top design in terms of weight. This is because the regulations state that you can have three square meters of space grade cells or six square meters of silicon cells so you can build a smaller car with Gallium Arsenide cells."

Cambridge's cunning exploitation of the space-grade Gallium Arsenide rule has indeed resulted in a lean machine, but at the cost of added tech, and accordingly an increased risk of breakdown.

Mario-Ghae admitted: "With anything mechanical or electromechanical system, there is always a risk of failure during the race. Even tried-and-tested systems such as tyres. We've tested our car to try and reduce these risks but they will never go away. The reward of 20 per cent gains for us, outweighs the risk of failure."

It remains to be seen how Resolution fares against the race heavyweights, but Mario-Ghae is confident. He said: "Our entire project has been a tall order. Anyone who had seen our cash flow forecast or build targets would've said building the car or even aiming to get this far was crazy/impossible, yet, somehow, we're here and our car runs and a title challenge remains possible. Six days to go, we're looking forward to the challenge."

Youtube Video

Good show, and the best of British luck. El Reg's Oz tentacle will be covering the race from Friday, so tune in as the world's most advanced solar vehicles battle their way from Darwin to Adelaide across 3,000km of Australia's inhospitable interior.

Here's our vid of the 2011 event, which gives some idea of what awaits the competitors, and indeed our intrepid Downunder colleagues:

Youtube Video

®

Full Coverage:

SOLAR SECRETS of WSC winner team Nuon

Nuon on the brink of another World Solar Challenge win

Australian teams burn up the road on solar car race

Wheels literally FALL OFF solar race contender

Nuon, Tokai maintain six-race rivalry

Dutch oven overcooked in World Solar Challenge

Wacky racers – The Reg's guide to 2013's Solar Challengers

Cambridge withdraws from World Solar Challenge

Unknown Aussie and Dutch family car spring solar surprise

Sun-seeking Cambridge boffins chase Solar Challenge car crown

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA lady: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.