Countdown: America’s No. 1 Solar Car Ready to Race the World

University of Michigan solar car team race crew member Ethan Lardner works on Quantum during a control stop on a practice race in Australia. Credit: Evan Dougherty

Newswise — ANN ARBOR, Mich.—With a cutting-edge solar car, an advanced strategy and an intrepid 16-student race crew, the University of Michigan’s national champion solar car team is ready for the upcoming World Solar Challenge. The 1,800-mile international contest starts on the north shore of Australia in Darwin on Oct. 16.

During the past two years of intense preparation, the team shaved 200 pounds off its 2009 car by weighing the vehicle bolt by bolt and streamlining nearly every part. They improved its aerodynamics by an estimated 30 percent. They tested in practice races across Michigan and in Australia. And they strategized with computer scientists and sailboat racers to come up with more accurate weather forecasting models.

University of Michigan solar car Quantum driving in Australia. The World Solar Challenge begins Oct. 16. Credit: Evan Dougherty

All they can do now, for the most part, is wait. And for some, that’s harder than it sounds.

“I just want to race!” said Chris Hilger, the team’s business manager, a junior in chemical engineering.

The World Solar Challenge is a grueling four-day race across the desert. Drivers rotate in four-hour shifts in a car that’s not designed for comfort. The cockpit can exceed 100 degrees. They sleep in tents on the side of Stuart Highway. U-M’s team is one of 37 competing from across the globe this year.

Michigan has finished third in this world race four times, most recently in 2009. That year’s model, Infinium, also nabbed a third consecutive national win for the team, which has six in all.

While the students are aiming for a world title with this year’s Quantum, they know the competition will be tough. And they are proud of their accomplishments so far.

University of Michigan solar car team race crew members Santosh Kumar, Aeresh Bilmoria, Jordan Feight and AJ Trublowski check under the hood during a control stop on a practice race in Australia. Credit: Evan Dougherty

“The team has done some pretty incredible things this year. We took on some ambitious designs and processes. We’re pushing the limits of what’s possible,” said Rachel Kramer, the team’s race manager, a junior neuroscience student.

“No matter how the race turns out, we can walk away knowing we’ve revolutionized how the team designs, builds and races solar cars.”

Released: 10/11/2011      Source: University of Michigan

Via Newswise

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Vivid Sydney 2011 - Sydney Opera House - Lighting the Sails by SUPERBIEN Photo Credit: David Clare

Sydney has been transformed tonight into a colourful canvas of light with the launch of the third annual Vivid Sydney festival – the largest celebration of light, music and ideas in the Southern Hemisphere, from the 27 May – 13 June 2011.
Over 40 light installations were illuminated to mark the start of the festival including the amazing „Lighting the Sails‟ on the iconic Sydney Opera House created by French design team SUPERBIEN.
Thousands lined the edge of Sydney Harbour to watch the first showing of „Lighting the Sails‟; explored a playground of interactive and low-energy light art displays by a global field of artists from countries including Germany, Singapore, New Zealand, The Netherlands, France, Thailand and Australia; and witnessed FireDance the largest fire performance ever seen in Australia.
To celebrate the opening night of Vivid Sydney, SUPERBIEN produced a special 15 minute lighting performance to music, giving onlookers a taste of the 3D mapping designs being projected onto the sails over the 18 nights of the festival.
SUPERBIEN let their imagination go wild with a swirling psychedelic journey of organic forms and colourful digital sea monsters, taking over Australia‟s favourite building. The artwork also includes a specially commissioned soundscape.
The music program at Vivid Sydney, Vivid LIVE at the Sydney Opera House curated by Stephen Pavlovic, opened with UK‟s Spirtualized, performing their modern masterpiece Ladies and Gentlemen we are Floating in Space with orchestra, gospel choir and band, ahead of a line-up including local and international music acts such as The Cure, who will perform their first three albums in their entirety at two very special shows exclusive to Vivid.
Other music acts performing at Sydney Opera House include 2manyDJs (Belgium), Bat for Lashes (UK), Sonny Rollins (US), Yo Gabba Gabba (US) and Odd Future (US) – creating an eclectic mix of established and emerging artists.
Executive Producer of Vivid Sydney, Ignatius Jones, known world-wide for his ambitious major event productions, said Vivid Sydney is a special type of festival, unique to the popular harbour city.
“In a world where the vast majority of festivals are held at the height of summer, Sydney‟s mild winter nights make our city the perfect setting to play with light.

“And what a stage we have for an outdoor festival with Sydney Opera House, Circular Quay and The Rocks the stage for best and brightest local and international creative minds to showcase their talent through light, music and ideas.”

Source: Vivid Sydney 2011