Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan


Solar car team unveils new vehicle

Posted: June 21, 2013

Solar car team unveils new vehicle

On Tuesday, June 18, the U-M Solar Car Team unveiled Generation. The big surprise: the driver position is asymmetrical.

Other differences from past solar cars include using four wheels instead of three, a wider field of vision for the driver and a larger driver compartment.

This is good news for AOSS student Kyle Chudler, who is a potential driver for the World Solar Challenge in Australia this October. He has already practiced driving and says the vehicle “handles like a Porsche, accelerates like a go-cart.”

“It was cool to actually drive something I saw built from scratch,” Chudler adds.

Some of the driving nuances include wearing a full harness and not being able to overhand turn.

AOSS student Jeffrey Cwagenberg also plays an important role as the meteorologist. U-M is one of the few teams to use a meteorologist, and this year AOSS purchased weather-monitoring equipment for Cwagenberg to use.

For a vehicle that depends on sun, accurate weather predictions are extremely important. Cwagenberg recalls predicting the weather for the team at the American Solar Challenge last summer. At one point, dark clouds formed near Lake Erie. The other teams slowed down to conserve battery power, but he knew that if they drove for another two or three hours, they would pass the storm and be fine. This brought the team a nearly three-hour lead.

Chudler and Cwagenberg look forward to joining the team for a practice run with Generation around Michigan at the end of July.

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