World’s best compete at international solar championship

worldsFROM 6 to 13 October, the world’s greatest solar challenge will take place in the heart of Australia, coving 3000km. Participants in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge will start in Darwin, travelling the Stuart Highway to Port Augusta before moving to Highway 1 to race to the finish in Adelaide.
The friendly competition is all about energy management – based on the original notion that a 1000W car would complete the journey in 50 hours, solar cars are allowed a nominal 5kW hours of stored energy, which is 10 per cent of that theoretical figure. All other energy must come from the sun or be recovered from the kinetic energy of the vehicle.
Participant vehicles are arguably the most efficient electric on earth and, having made the journey to Darwin by successfully navigating quarantine, customs, scrutineering, safety inspections and event briefings, participants are faced with an epic journey that combines human endurance with highly advanced technology.
For the first time in the history of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, the 2013 event will introduce three distinct classes, each with their own parameters, stages and goals.
The elite Challenger class is conducted in a single stage from Darwin to Adelaide. Once the teams have left Darwin they must travel as far as they can until 5pm in the afternoon then make camp in the desert, wherever they happen to be. The Challenger class vehicles are visually stunning – slick, single seat aerodynamic masterpieces built for sustained endurance and total energy efficiency. They are limited to a maximum length of 4.5m, width of 1.8m and are allowed only four wheels and a single driver.
“With cars slightly shorter than their predecessors, a great deal of lateral thinking will be required to meet conflicting needs of maximising the solar array, meeting the new requirements for driver vision and allowing the minimum room sponsor signage required to qualify as Challenger class, and contest the World Solar Cup,” the event organisers stated.
The two other classes – the Michelin Cruiser class and the GoPro Adventure class – have different requirements; however across all classes, teams must be fully self-sufficient, ensuring that the event is a great adventure for all participants – many past participants had described it as the adventure of a lifetime.
During the journey there are seven mandatory check points where observers are changed and team managers may update themselves with the latest information on the weather and their own position in the field.
Here teams may perform the most basic of maintenance only – checking and maintenance of tyre pressure and cleaning of debris from the vehicle. There are also undisclosed check points which may be imposed by the event officials to ensure regulatory compliance.
The 2013 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge will welcome 40 teams from 23 countries – 24 competing in the Challenger class, nine in the Cruiser class and seven in the Adventure class.
The International teams include representatives from world-renowned institutions such as Cambridge University, Stanford University and Tokai University, all employing cutting-edge technology in their bid to bag the world title in October.
The University of Michigan’s team is already North America’s most successful solar vehicle team, and has adopted product lifecycle management software technology from Siemens to aid in its goal of claiming victory in Australia.
“Our teams have a rich tradition of excellence and a great track record of success,”
University of Michigan Solar Car Team senior business development manager Pavan Naik said.
“But as we began to prepare to compete with the best teams in the world in 2013, we knew we needed more comprehensive PLM software technology. The breadth of functionality for design, simulation and aerodynamic surface modeling in [Siemens’ technology] NX are far beyond anything we have used in the past.
“Siemens’ PLM software helped us with the rapid decision making needed in solar car development and should help maximise our chance to cross the finish line first in Australia.”