Tag: U-M

Welcome to the Outback – U-M Solar Car Races Across Australia

>>We're right at the start line getting readyto race.

It's incredible that it's finally here.

It's almost unreal.

We've been waitingfor such a long time that it's actually today.

We're starting the race today and right nowit's incredible.

>>"This is the team from Michigan, University.

To give you an idea, that vehicle has cost them about $1.

2 million dollars to make, soa serious investment.

And here we have the two Dutch teams.

" >>I have a dream of us on the road, but justbarely ahead of all the other teams but we were winning, but we're keeping ahead of themevery step of the way.

Yea, there's definitely dreams about the race.

>>"Today, that dream comes true, and we welcomeall the teams from all the countries around the world who have chosen to come to Darwinand come to Australia to be apart of this event.

" >>This is race number 18 for me, and I wouldn'tbe here if this wasn't the greatest thing going.

>>We're absolutely planning on winning.

Howcould we make any other plans? >>It's been a year, or you know, two years designingthis car.

This is what it's for, this day.

>>"Let's go blue!" >>"Go blue!" >>It's going to be complete chaos out of Darwinbecause it always is.

It's a bathtub curve with these cars, so they start off, you basicallyhave failures because cars get old and bits start falling apart and failures because thereare new, untested systems.

And coming out of Darwin, everyone's just had their carsat the race track for weeks; they've been tweaking, they haven't been on the road.

Soyou have all sorts of problems, there's complete carnage, there's cars passing, there's traffic,there's traffic lights, there's all sorts of, yea, excitement on the road.

Once we getbasically to Katherine, then the race is smooth sailing, hopefully.

>>A couple road trains that I passed or thatpassed me.

There was just a huge gust of wind, and rocks flew up on the windshield,that was kind of scary.

And then passing Tokai was a pretty intense moment, I know I gotup to about 115 kilometers per hour.

And it was good to pass Tokai, the former world champion.

It was also, you know, I had a really, kind of a death grip on the steering wheel.

We started in third place and we passed Nuon,and so now we're in second place just behind Tokai and it feels good.

"The headphone kept falling out like every2 minutes.

" It was a pretty rough day of driving, probablythe most difficult day I've ever had in a solar car.

It was just windy, hot, and justa ton of traffic on the road.

"Really, really hot.

" >>Most of the morning, Tokai, ourselves, andNuon were neck and neck, so we expect that to continue on the rest of the afternoon.

Ryan had a great run for us driving.

We're putting in Troy now for the rest of the afternoon,keep him refreshed so that way Ryan doesn't get overheated, over-tired in the car.

>>So we just got to Dunmarra.

It's the secondcontrol stop on the route.

We just drove here from Katherine.

Uh, the drive was very long,very hot, bumpy, very windy, so it was not that pleasant of a drive.

But we made it hereand we're doing pretty well.

>>We're doing very good.

We are now second,like one minute behind the Tokai and it's going very good, very good.

>>We started from the fifth place, but we passeda few cars, and now we've reached first place.

>>At the last control stop, we didn't even seea fourth car so they were at least half an hour behind us.

And yea, so right now itslooking like a three car race, really.

>>So we're feeling really good.

We're rightbehind Nuon and Tokai so we are right neck and neck.

I think we traveled 716 kilometersor so, which is right near our target.

To get done in four days you need to hit probably750 a day.

So we're right next to that, which is good.

We stopped right at the very lastsecond that you could stop during the day, 5:40 PM which means we'll start at 8:10 AMtomorrow.

We found a really good camping spot.

It's a rest stop.

We have a bathroom whichis an extreme luxury out here in the outback.

And great places to charge in the evening,we're also on a hill for the morning which is perfect.

Feeling pretty calm at the moment.

It's nice to be done with the first day.

>>"How many degrees, Santosh?" >>It's an incredible experience to have, you know,to work on something for two years – design it, build it, and then ultimately to raceit, and see it succeed, which is just incredible.

Going into college I had no idea that I wouldbe doing this momentous thing, but I applied myself, and I kept on working towards it,and it happened eventually, and I learned about myself, that if I apply myself, I canachieve anything I set out to do.

>>I think in terms of strategy, one thing thatstands out was how we approached the first day.

During the first day we had a lot ofproblems with the driver radio, and we couldn't communicate properly to the driver.

That wascrucial, because it meant that it made it really hard to overtake Nuon and Tokai.

Itwould have been a lot better if we were able to overtake and drive at our own pace.

SoI think in terms of strategy, something that we probably should have done was to stop thecar while Ryan was driving, fix his radio, which probably would have taken about a minutebut it probably would have saved us 15 minutes/20 minutes worth of time.

>>"1, 2, 3, up!" >>"Drivers, get as much rest as soon as possible.

I still need to figure it out, but it shouldn't take too long, just the driving order fortomorrow.

" >>"I think we should also have another roundof applause for our drivers.

" [Applause] >>So we are right neck and neck, so tomorrowwill be an interesting day.

>>My name is Santosh Kumar and I am the headstrategist of the Michigan Solar Car team.

Basically my job is to figure out how fastthe car should go in various situations during the race.

I think that our biggest weaponis the fact that we pay attention to weather more than other teams.

>>Radio sound is tied here to the bottom ofthe balloon and we've got about a hundred feet of string between them.

The balloon willprobably go up about five kilometers, so three point something miles.

And during that timeit will be collecting weather data.

So that's all these little things, and then inside thebox there are a bunch of sensors that are tracking temperature and pressure and humidityand things like that.

>>What we are going to see over the next coupledays is basically teams trying to feel each other out.

See exactly what kind of performancethe other cars can do.

And plan their final maneuver for the push to Adelaide.

The ultimate goal of strategy is to make surewe cross the finish line in first place.

From Darwin to Adelaide, that's 3000 kilometers.

It's a very, very long way.

One thing that we have to do as strategists is to be patient.

It's all right if somebody takes the lead when you have 2000 kilometers to go, and that'swhat's been going on.

People are going back and forth in the lead.

>>Tears came to my eyes.

I said, I can't believeI'm going to be here having so much fun! Seventy-seven years old.

I wonder if I'm going to be ableto make it at seventy-nine.

"Oh, here they come.

Oh, oh, quick!" >>"Joe, come straight through.

Stay to the rightof this cone.

Stay to the right of this cone.

" >>Uh, we are currently in, what's it called,Tennant Creek, on the control stop.

The first one of the day today on the second day ofthe race.

>>"Shoulders, 1, 2, 3, shoulders!" >>The car is doing well.

The wind is very strongtoday so we have to be cautious of that, but other than that, the car has not stopped once,which is excellent.

We are about two minutes behind Nuon and about 12 minutes behind Tokai,so it's all really, really close.

>>Michigan is a few minutes behind us, so that'svery exciting.

We came in to this control stop a few minutes after Tokai and we arenow charging our battery.

We will be chasing Tokai for, yea, the number one position inthis race.

>>Today it is very nice for us just to keepdoing what we do.

We didn't think about others, we just think about us.

>>"3, 2, 1, go!" >>We are moving forward as we want.

>>I joined the solar car team to really pushmyself.

Just put myself up against the best people and to see how I perform.

And I thinkI figured that out.

I learned how much it would take for me to break: mentally, physically,emotionally, psychologically.

You know, if you want to be the best in the world,you have to go near to those boundaries.

You have to be a bit crazy to do what we do.

>>"Good afternoon.

" >>"How ya goin? Um, the road's closed over here,there's a fire in Barrow Creek.

" >>"Oh, lovely.

" >>"So, everyone's in here, so, you can go andhang out with them.

" >>"Well this is interesting.

I wonder how they'regonna take this in race time.

" >>We are at.

I actually have no idea how tosay the name of this town.

Wa-chope? That's how I would say it with my Michigan accent.

It's about 112 kilometers, I think, after Tennant Creek, so we just did a control stopat Tennant Creek, that was a typical 30 minutes.

And then we heard that there might be brush fires down the way, which is exactly what we've run into.

So the next stop wassupposed to be Barrow Creek, but we hadn't made it there.

The police have stopped everythingon the road.

So we just pulled into this little hotel parking lot.

We are currently beingheld here until the police say we can go, or until the red shirt officials say we cango.

>>"What do you do with the fire on the sideof the road?" >>Just keep going and pray.

>>It's pretty crazy, definitely not somethingthat we expected.

As I understand it, everyone that didn't make it to Tennant Creek is stoppedup there so basically the whole race is on a stop right now.

And we're just waiting tosee where these fires end up.

I'm quite certain we're staying here for thenight.

We're just waiting to hear.

We're supposed to have some sort of a fire briefingI think.

Looks like they're making phone calls to event headquarters, so we'll hear afterthey finish that conversation.

>>So you're here for tonight.

You'll start inthe morning as if it's a normal control stop.

Questions of charging and the time of startingwill be resolved by a panel tonight and relayed to you as soon as we know something ourselves.

[Music] >>The feeling is very good.

At the moment we'redriving a nearly perfect race for us.

It's just going fine.

The fires mess things upa bit, but we'll see what happens tomorrow and what changes for the strategy.

>>So, today for all of the crazy stuff thatwent on, it went very well.

Sounds like we spent zero time on the side of the road, right? Got out of Tennant Creek.

>>Like Rachel said, we are on a level playingfield.

We are going back into Southern Australian territory which we know very well.

We knowthe hills very well, and the hills will be a good place to attack and exploit Tokai'sweakness.

The plan for today is just to keep pace withNuon and Tokai.

Tokai seems to be traveling pretty quickly.

We want to make sure thatwe stay with them and keep in position for the final push to Adelaide.

>>For a few seconds I wasn't able to see anything.

It was really, interesting.

It was basically large flames next to the road.

A large plumeof smoke coming straight across the road.

So we went right through that, and continuedon.

It was really interesting.

I was just driving with one hand, holding the other handover the vent in front of me so I didn't get any smoke in the car.

I just got through itand held my breath for a few moments and it was all good.

>>"It was scary though the fire?" >>"It wasn't too bad.

Yea we got stopped fora few minutes.

" >>"Yea we had a situation that could have beenvery dangerous.

The fire.

There was suddenly very big smoke, you couldn't see anything.

We got out of the smoke and there was a road train coming.

" >>"There was one section for us, probably whereyou guys did that.

I think they stopped us right there.

" >>"And in those few minutes, the fire set, or?" >>"Haha, no, it was still there.

It didn't makeany difference at all.

" >>Before solar car, I was, I guess I'd callmyself a fairly timid person; I wasn't that comfortable talking with people.

I kind ofpushed for things, but on the safe side.

In solar car, I had to change all of that, pushthose boundaries.

I think that it's a really good thing that I'm a very different personand I'm a more assertive and confident person.

I'm ready to work with people who are doinga hundred different things.

>>"Oh well we were just taking a bike ride toAlice Springs.

" >>"We were just riding past and then I realized,there are the solar cars, so we stopped to come and have a look.

It's great.

" >>"Well we've been traveling for six months,so it's great to see something like this.

" >>"I love the whole concept of solar.

It's definitelynice and sunny and hot down here.

" >>The ride to Alice Springs was very smooth.

But I think an hour before we got to Alice Springs we noticed there was a problem withone of our maximum power point trackers that basically connects a part of the solar panelsto the battery.

We will have to do a replacement, and since we can't do it at a control stoptechnically, we will be rolling our car from here to the corner over there and proceedingwith the switch.

It should only take a minute.

>>A solar car is much different than drivinga normal car you'd usually drive.

Obviously it's not constructed for the driver's comfortin any sort of fashion.

So when you're in there you are cramped into an awkwardposition.

You're kind of sitting on your tailbone.

There's only one vent that lets the air in,so that's all you have to cool yourself.

And that vent doesn't work unless you're going above40 miles per hour.

And the temperature of the car'll reach 30 degrees above ambient.

>>Right now we're at the Kulgera control stop.

Right now we're neck and neck to Nuon.

We're about four minutes back but we're thinkingwe're gaining on them.

So it's kind of an exciting feeling.

>>It's a bit of a cat and mouse game a lot oftimes.

Especially when teams are in such close quarters like us.

We've camped at the samesite for three nights in a row.

It was a dog fight the first day, and it will be a dogfight continuing on.

>>"So many insects here.

They're all over theplace.

This guy wants to go though.

" >>We're doing our nightly checks so basicallygoing over every nut and bolt on the car, making sure it's all safe, nothing came looseduring the day.

We're also changing all the tires out for fresh tires for tomorrow.

Thebearings in it are made for electric motors so they're really smooth bearings with almostno resistance so it will just keep spinning for a long, long time.

>>"Pretty good day today.

" >>"We all need to go out tomorrow and give 100%.

" >>"Let's put everything we can in lead and chase,so we're not dependent on another vehicle.

" >>A lot of solar car racing, according to Santosh,our head strategist, is much like cycling, or much like any kind of long endurance race,where, there's a lot of head games involved.

Strategy is a lot more than just looking atthe weather and saying, "Oh it's sunny, let's drive fast!" Basically, a lot of the strategist'sjob is also to evaluate the other cars on the road, and in this case there are two rightnext to us.

So we're trying to figure out the performance of those cars.

And so whencars drive fast, you can assume they have lots of charge and they're probably performingbetter than us, or you can just assume that they're driving faster than us to try andfake us out.

So there's a lot going on that just, it's a lot more complicated than itoriginally seems.

So right now, our strategists are trying to figure that out at the sametime as the other strategists.

Going on towards tomorrow, it sounds like we will be startingat 8 AM, or just about 8 AM, just a few minutes behind Tokai and Nuon.

>>It's going to be really interesting tomorrowbecause we can hopefully have an opportunity to make the pass and then go for first.

>>My hair probably looks fantastic right now.

I just woke up.

Oh my God, what day is it? Day 4? We're in Kulgera.

This morning ourdriver will be driving 390 kilometers, which is very long.

It's almost five hours of driving,so in a solar car, that's quite a long time.

Our plan for today is a very aggressive one.

We want to try and catch Tokai who are 40 minutes ahead of us.

In the meantime whilewe are doing that, we will probably either pass Nuon at some point.

>>It's very exciting, Michigan is right behindus and team Tokai is in front of us.

The plan for today is a very strategic plan, but alsoa mind game between different teams: Tokai, but also Michigan.

So I'm not really goingto elaborate on the plans of today.

You'll see by the end of the day where we are.

You'llsee the distance between us and other teams.

>>In terms of Nuna, Nuna won four times in arow, 2nd the fifth time, and we hope to make them 3rd this time.

>>During the first couple of hours when we weregoing so fast, going 103 kilometers per hour, it was suddenly very encouraging because wewere getting reports from our media vehicle, our weather vehicle and our scout vehiclesabout the locations and speeds that Tokai and Nuon were going.

It was very apparentthat we were slowly but surely catching up to them.

We finally saw Quantum show the performancethat we knew all along it was capable of.

>>We had a big tail-wind to start off with.

It became a cross-wind and at one point the windowed fairing sort of opened up.

>>It's the part of the car that hinges openso we can steer.

>>And it caught the wind just right and flewoff.

And when it flew off, I had no idea what it was in the beginning because it was justa loud noise and when they told me to slow down, I guess I figured it out pretty quickwhat it was.

It was at that moment that I realized we were going to lose some time.

>>"Damn, someone made this really tight.

" >>The wind caught the fairing and it flappedopen.

>>We didn't have any on our support vehiclesso we have to wait for the trailer to come.

>>That caused us quite a bit of a delay on theside of the road.

I think we lost about a half hour there.

>>And sitting on the side of the road, you knew thatyour chances at winning were automatically gone, at that second, which is not a fun thing tothink about.

So it's kind of frustrating.

>>Yep, you can't have that happen if you wantto win.

>>I think everyone is a little disappointedright now.

But we'll see what happens.

There's no guarantee that Nuon and Tokai can stayon the road either.

>>Two road trains went by at the same time andthey ripped this off, again.

So the second time in two hours that we've had the sameissue.

It's kind of unfortunate, but, yea.

>>The replacement fairing that we just put ondoesn't exactly fit, so we're just trimming some edges down a bit so that it fits.

It'sa safety issue because the tire was rubbing against the new fairing and we don't wantto blow out a tire and cause our driver to lose control.

>>Rough day today, humbling day.

>>We knew the cross-winds could kind of blowthe car around a little bit and we've had times where fairings flapped open, but todaywe lost a fairing, twice, which is.

I mean what are you going to do about that? It'sjust terrible luck.

>>"It's a safety issue.

Drivers first, and thenGerald has the call about how fast we can drive, and you guys should continue to push.

If you think the car can go faster, tell Gerald that.

Don't give up on that, because maybethe winds will die down and so we can go 105 again.

So don't give up now, because we haveplenty of chances.

Hundreds of kilometers yet to go.

" >>"Do you know how shitty it is sitting in Chasefor two hours watching the car charge? I'm ready to go.

It just seems like there's a lotof resistance to going the speeds I want to go.

" >>"There is.

Absolutely there is, and it's a safetyissue, and you have to respect that.

So you should say "go faster" and Gerald should say"no we have to go slower" and you should say, "fine, as soon as we can go faster, go faster.

"Like keep pushing, don't give up.

" >>I think everyone is a little disappointedright now.

But we'll see what happens.

There's no guarantee that Nuon and Tokai can stayon the road either.

It's really not a limit of energy right now, it's just safety that'sinhibiting us.

>>Emotions have kind of been up and down today.

Obviously really frustrated, and hard seeing the team so down after the first fairing cameoff.

And people were really frustrated and worried about the wind and kind of at oneanother.

And that's bothersome.

It seems like even though it happened again, things area little bit more optimistic at the moment even though we are pretty far behind.

So we'llsee how tonight goes.

We are in Glendambo.

Glendambo is a town weremember well from doing our mini mock race up in South Australia.

We're finally in SouthAustralia, so that's good.

It's a tiny town, and we're here, now it's the third night ina row we're at a control stop.

It's a little bit unusual.

It's kind of a crazy day.

Today I think we ended about an hour behind Nuon and an hour and a half behind Tokai.

Kind of shitty that we found a new problem for the first time with the fairings on therace, and it happened twice in the same day.

And obviously it sucks that we found we'respeed limited based on the stability of the car.

You guys probably know that tomorrowwe have a little bit less than 600 kilometers to go before we reach end of timing.

And inthat time, considering the top speed can only be 110, Nuon and Tokai will probably be cruisingsomewhere close to that.

We pretty much need them to make a mistake if we're going to getbetter than third place.

But at this point, with us being so close to the end,I hope that everyone can adopt a good mindset for this last 600 k.

Because, you guys haveput an incredible amount of work into this team, and no matter how we finish tomorrowwe can finish with our heads held high.

Don't forget what this team has done, and don'tbe down about being 3rd in the world, because that's pretty damn good.

>>We're the University of Michigan.

The Universityof Michigan does not quit, does not slow down.

We go as hard as we can, as long as we can.

Let's keep our heads up, let's look forward, and just keep going until we get there.

>>I think it's the saying of the day.

Lifegoes on.

So right now we are trying to get in a morning charge on the last day of racing.

Theend is near, after two years of preparing for this.

Today we are planning on pushingfor the finish line, pushing with our full potential of the car, making sure we can goas fast as we can, and if any of our competitors make mistakes, we'll be right on their heels,trying to pass them.

>>We've always known how to build a good solarcar, but we've never really known how to build a fantastic solar car.

And I think this projectwe learned that.

And that is a great lesson to know going forward.

After the World SolarChallenge in 2009, it was really obvious that we were really far behind in terms of engineeringcapability, design capability, construction capability, but that gap needed to be overcome ifwe wanted to design a car that was more efficient, fast enough to win the race.

This year youhad first day, second day, third day, you had no idea who was going to win.

We builta car that was really efficient.

It was the robustness and the reliability that kind ofdid us in the end.

That's not a very difficult problem to fix.

And I think going forward,the team will have easier problems to try and figure out if they want to win.

>>Timing officially just ended.

We placed thirdbehind Tokai and Nuon, the same 1-2-3 as last year.

>>We had a pretty exciting last hundred kilometers.

The battery dropped a lot lower than we expected, so we had to go pretty slow.

So it was exciting,and now it's very relieving that it's finally over.

Very relieving.

>>Michigan has now come in 3rd place five times.

Five times out of ten races which is pretty incredible.

Talk about consistency! It's greatto be top 3, you could say, but it's a little bit, it's a little bit hard to see us get thesame place again when we worked so hard, completely with the intention of placing higher, so thereis some disappointment there.

But I think that we did an incredible job, and that, wemade some changes that I think are going to last a really long time.

We put the team ina great position for future years.

My hope is that everyone here, everyone on the teamis going to be rooting for the next team and pushing to beat this record next year, becausethat's the first thing that we want, just put ourselves in a good position, and we'llbe back again, and I think we have a great shot of doing it in the future.

[Cheering] >>"Go hard, go blue, is that what you say?" >>"Yea, go blue!" [Singing] "Hail! to the victors valiant.

Hail!to the conqu'ring heroes.

Hail! Hail! to Michigan the leaders and best.

Hail! to the victorsvaliant, hail to the conqu'ring heroes.

Hail! Hail! to Michigan, the champions of the West.

Go Blue!" >>I've talked to some alumni from the 90s, say,Furqan, for instance who led the team in '93, about looking back at what the whole solarcar experience did for him.

And when you're so close, relatively speaking.

We're still justa few months out.

The emotions of certain times in the whole solar car experience kindof are the first things that come to your mind.

And those can be intense stress or intenseexcitement or whatever you were feeling during the race, but that's not really what.

Inthe long run, that's not really what matters.

It's how you dealt with all of those things.

It would have been definitely been easier, emotionally, to win.

And if you believe thatdoing things that aren't easy makes you stronger, which I think makes good sense, then yes,I'd say that not getting 1st place made us, in some ways, stronger.

I think that, in someways, it was a bad thing clearly because it kind of knocked down our confidence, and fora while, at least made me feel angry and disappointed and a lot of negativeemotions.

But having to work through those and coming full circle, I guess, to see thatgoing through all the emotions of sort of anger and denial, and those things to comeback and see the value of this experience, having to go through all of that, I thinkdefinitely made us stronger.

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