University of Michigan Redesigns Solar Car for Australian Race
A new solar car from the University of Michigan may be the strangest-looking vehicle you've seen in a while, but its funky asymmetrical design aims to bring the school to victory at the World Solar Challenge in Australia later this year.
The University of Michigan is no stranger to the World Solar Challenge, a 1,800-mile, weeklong endurance race held each October across Australia since 2005. The team has placed in third five times over the years (among 28 worldwide participants), but with a recent change to the challenge's rules — vehicles now require four requires instead of three — the University of Michigan is hoping its new creation, the Generation, will finally make it to the top.
The car, which measures at about 177 inches long and 43 inches tall, weighs in at about 500 pounds when the driver is in place. It can generate about 1,500 watts of electricity and can fly up to 100 mph.
Although solar cars are not likely to be available for consumer use in the future, the regulation changes this year will bring the technology closer to cars on the road right now.
"We probably won't see a solar car on the market anytime soon, but a lot of the technologies that we use are being incorporated into vehicles right now such as composites and lithium-ion batteries," Hausman said.
"This design is different because it is our first asymmetrical car," Hausman said. "The driver is now positioned on the left side of the vehicle instead of in the center. Due to the addition of the forth wheel, it may not be faster, but our goal was to reduce the impact of the additional wheel as much as possible."
The lopsided design of the newly-redesigned Generation aims to boost efficiency on the road. The new rules mandate that the wheels can't be next to each other, as they are on traditional cars. Otherwise, the driver's seat would hang lower than the surface and mess up the car's speed.