Solar Car picks up speed for the long haul

By John McDonald

When was the last time you saw a solar powered vehicle racing at 100 kilometres per hour in the city of Calgary? The University of Calgary’s solar car team was at Race City Motorsport Park on Tuesday testing out their car, Schulich I, in preparation for the North American Solar Car Challenge.

“We brought the solar car to Race City because we wanted to test the performance of our vehicle and let our drivers experience speeds which they will be facing in the race,” said project co-chair operations manager Darshni Pillay.

The team, consisting of roughly 20 students from the faculties of business, engineering, science and social science, is preparing for the race starting in Dallas, Texas on July 13.

“One thing that sets us apart from other universities is our interdisciplinary team,” said Pillay. “It makes us unique and gives us the edge that we need to succeed. Our team accounts for many different variables that we might face while on the race.”

Pillay believes they have an advantage in the race due to their attention to strategy, adding most teams devote less time to the issue.

The engineering teams are preparing the car for the race until July 1 when the team will depart for Dallas. The race will last nine days–with stops in Canadian and American cities including Winnipeg and Medicine Hat–and is over 4,000 kilometres long. The team will be facing 25 other universities and colleges in this year’s race.

In addition to the test at Race City Motorsport Park, the team plans on more trials and training on secondary highways leading up to the race. The drivers will need to endure five-hour shifts in the car during the race, which has no air conditioning, heating, power steering or cruise control.

The North American Solar Car Challenge will be held from July 13-22, starting in Dallas and ending in Calgary.

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