To design and build a solar powered vehicle to compete in the Formula Sun Grand Prix, an endurance based track race, and the American Solar Challenge, a cross-country road race.
Issues Involved or Addressed
Solar powered race cars are ultra-efficient electric land vehicles capable of traveling across entire continents at highway speeds on a single battery charge. Their design and operation represent one of the most unique and challenging problems of systems optimization and cross-country logistics as the vehicles are designed to race in environments ranging from the American Midwest to the Australian Outback. GTSR focuses primarily on speed-based vehicles, known as the Challenger class, and competes in the American Solar Challenge.
Overall, the goal is to optimize speed per power: to achieve the fastest velocities for the least amount of power cost. To do this requires both depth and breadth of knowledge across multiple STEM and non-STEM fields. The overall team is broken into five divisions with subteams that dig deeper into each facet of the vehicle’s design. They are:
- Mechanical à Aerobody, Brakes & Pedals, Frame (Chassis), Steering, and Suspension.
- Electrical à Drivetrain, Batteries, Solar, Telemetry, and Auxiliary Systems.
- Business - Acquires and manages sponsors for the team and oversees budget planning.
- Outreach - Coordinates the team’s physical presence at displays and media online.
- Race Operations - Plans the race and coordinates team logistics for drive tests.
Members can tackle technical & non-technical problems in-depth such as streamlined aerodynamics, space frame design, solar array design & fabrication, battery protection systems, CAN communication, welding (TIG/MIG), carbon fiber/fiberglass layup, long-range telemetry, human-machine interface design, structural analysis, suspension design & analysis, controller design, battery balancing, and more.
Methods and Technologies
Academic Majors of Interest
Preferred Interests and Preparation
ME – Background/interest in CAD/FEA, frame and suspension design, steering system design, human machine interfacing, brakes/pedals integration, computer aided manufacturing, welding, composite manufacturing (carbon & fiberglass), tribology, and designing of parts for high-endurance use.
AE/MSE – Vehicle aerodynamics (3-D streamlined vehicles), Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), composites manufacturing, vehicle stability, and thermal analysis.
EE/CmpE/CS - Background/interest in embedded hardware design, microcontrollers, multilayered circuit board design, programming (C, C++, Python, Matlab), high voltage battery pack design, electromagnetic induction motors, power protection, data acquisition & telemetry.
BA/MGMT/IE – Background/interest in corporate relations, sponsorships, networking, design presentations, project management, public relations, social media, finance.
CM – Background/interest website design, graphic design, videography, photography.
All Majors – Design of ultra-efficient & high-endurance land vehicles, advanced machining techniques, additive manufacturing, vehicle testing, project management, carbon fiber layups, networking and sponsorship, shop management, vehicle and race simulation, testing procedures, driving practice, and trans-continental racing logistics.