Introducing our 2016-17 cycle leadership team!

Kelsey Josund – Team Lead
(Computer Science 2016)
Max Drach – Engineering Lead
(Computer Science 2017)
Gawan Fiore – Strategy Lead
(Computer Science 2016)
Kate Pregler – Electrical Lead
(Electrical Engineering 2017)
Brandon Solis – Code Lead
(Computer Science 2017)
Anna Olson & Rachel Abril – Aero Lead
(Mechanical Engineering 2016, Mechanical Engineering 2015)
John Stayner & Alex Lubkin – Array Lead
(Engineering Physics 2017 and Materials Science 2017)
Anna Tskhovrebov & Hayden Hall – Mechanical Lead
(Mechanical Engineering 2017, Mechanical Engineering 2018)
Reed Kraus – Composites Lead
(Mechanical Engineering 2018)
Junwon Park – Business Lead
(Computer Science 2019)
Jim Liu – Financial Officer
(Economics 2018)
Greg Lopes – Lead Engineer: Battery Management System
(Electrical Engineering 2018)
Mike Chen – Lead Battery Mechanical Engineer
(Mechanical Engineering 2018)

We have a talented group of excited new leaders ready to take the team into the next two years. Many of these people went with Arctan to the World Solar Challenge and will bring their experience to managing and designing our next car.  Those who stayed behind at Stanford in the fall did a fantastic job of preparing detailed sponsor update packets and recruiting new members to join us moving forward.

After holding an election meeting at the very start of winter quarter, we are now starting to settle into a new meeting structure and getting to know all of our lovely new members. We have a dedicated group working to expand our sponsor network, a team already hitting the ground running to develop a better aerodynamics design toolchain than we’ve had in the past, and lots of mechanical and electrical new member learning projects are getting underway.

We are happy to announce that we will once again be racing in the Challenger Class in the World Solar Challenge in October 2017. After a long conversation, we decided that we are in a unique position this cycle to do better than we ever have before within the same class. At the same meeting, we discussed our philosophy and goals for the coming months. We all very much admired the motivation in the last few cycles to develop a reliable car without compromising speed, and we want to put even more emphasis on safety and driver comfort than we have in the past — a comfortable driver is a better driver, especially in a solar car. And as always, we strongly believe in our motto, “Test it again”.

As we transition from the 2014-2015 team generation to our future efforts, team members are hard at work on campus organizing meetings and introducing new members to our work and our legacy. Today we’ve gained a new Friends-level sponsor to help us in building this new team. AutoNation is the country’s largest automotive retailer and is the leading provider of new and pre-owned vehicles. Thanks for supporting our project, AutoNation!

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Five days and four nights after leaving Darwin, Arctan and the Stanford Solar Car Project team arrived in Adelaide, South Australia. We came in a strong sixth place finish, one of the seven top teams to complete the race in five days. The team ran a tight ship the entire race, not stopping once except for control stops and end of race day. SSCP performed so well because of the extensive testing, incredible determination and focus of the race crew and drivers, and support of the parents. Thank you to Loie, Andrew, Dan, and Morgan who followed us through the entire journey as well as Olga and Andrei who joined us in Darwin and Adelaide.

Arctan approaching the finish line at Victoria Square in Adelaide. Photo Credits Hayden Hall
Arctan approaching the finish line at Victoria Square in Adelaide. Photo Credits Hayden Hall

The final race time from Darwin to Adelaide was 41 hours, 23 minutes, and 59 seconds,  less than three and a half hours behind the winning Nuon Solar Team. Check out the full timing board at World Solar Challenge. It was an incredible voyage through all of the 3022 km, mostly spent on the Stuart Highway. The two years of preparation, design, manufacturing, and testing came full circle as we crossed the finish line in Adelaide. Thank you our team members, sponsors, family, and friends who supported us from the start.

The team with Arctan at the finish line! Photo Credits Hayden Hall
The team with Arctan at the finish line! Photo Credits Hayden Hall

This past weekend, all of the solar electric vehicles were on display in Victoria Square in Adelaide. On Sunday, the cars were lined up in the street for a parade of possibly the largest gathering of solar cars in history. That evening, we attended the final awards ceremony. Congratulations to the top finishers, awards winners, and every team who participated in this incredible event.

Arctan in WSC2015 parade. Photo Credits Alex Lubkin
Arctan in WSC2015 parade. Photo Credits Alex Lubkin

If you want to read more about the day to day activities, locations, and driving during the race, make sure to check out the daily race blog posts which have been updated with photos! Also look into major news sources that covered the race and Stanford Solar Car Project: The GuardianBBCInternational Business TimesStanford University News, and Gizmag.

We made it to the finish line! Anna T drove Arctan into downtown Adelaide in sixth place after the team executed a perfect race.

We woke up for the earliest sunrise yet at 5:35 am event time and played pump up music from the Chase vehicle’s speakers while we ate breakfast and did array standing. Everyone was very excited for the end of the race, but we knew we had to keep our game faces on. The morning was chilly and windy, so everyone bundled up and kept moving while we got ready for the day.

Anna O took the first shift, bout 100km from our campsite to Port Augusta. There, Anna T traded in as the driver and much of the team returned to the same positions where they started the race — for complicated urban driving, we needed everyone at their best. The next 300km involved lots of traffic, stop lights, and hills, which asked a lot of our solar car driver. Everything went smoothly.

We pulled into the finish line staging area around 1:30pm, swapped into the WSC-provided finish line escort vehicles, and proceeded to the finish line. Hooray!

We were greeted by SSCP alums and supporters with beer and donuts. Since we’re done racing Arctan, we even put one on the array!

 

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Eating donuts off the array because we donut care anymore.

As is customary, after finishing we were rushed to the fountain in Victoria Square by teams who had already finished. It wasn’t quite hot enough to jump in a fountain, but after a week in the Outback it felt so good!

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Jumping in the fountain after crossing the finish line.

The rest of the week we will display the car at the finish line festival by day and go bar hopping with other teams by night. After WSC, everyone trades their team shirts and race jerseys, so we made sure to bring a lot of extras. Sunday we are going to be in a parade and then go to the WSC closing ceremonies, and then the team is free to explore Australia.

We did it!

World Solar Challenge Details
Every day, we drive from 8am to 5pm, stopping only at designated 30-minute control stops. These are usually gas stations, but occasionally just parking lots, and are located every 200 to 400 kilometers along the Stuart Highway. We get out to stretch our legs, use the bathroom, and refill support vehicles and water bottles here; during this time, we are allowed to charge the car but cannot do any work on it.

An official Observer rides along with the convoy, in the passenger seat of the Chase vehicle, and takes notes on what we are doing. Their job is to make sure we don’t break any rules, and also to note if any support vehicles from other teams break any rules in their interactions with us. We provide the Observer with a tent of their own and meals. We get a new Observer every couple control stops.

Our convoy includes four vehicles, plus parents: Scout/Media, Lead, Chase, and Tow. Scout goes out ahead to make sure we know where control stops are and finds us suitable campsites at night. Between stops, they pass the convoy and wait for us to cruise past so they can snap photos, then repeat. Lead is in front of the Solar Car, and is usually the vehicle directly ahead (unless someone merges between). It is usually about 500m ahead and call out large oncoming vehicles, potholes, and debris on the road. Chase rides directly behind the Solar Car, and behaves on the road as if it is one with the solar car: they pass slow vehicles together and go through stop signs together. Chase serves as the eyes for Solar Car a lot of the time, since the Solar Car is so low to the ground. Tow pulls the trailer behind the convoy, so that we always have our extra fuel and personal gear nearby. We store the car in the trailer at night. During the race, we have two parent campervans following along to provide food and extra water.

There are 40 teams, 31 of which are in the Challenger class like us. Each travels with a convoy similar to ours, although many have far more vehicles and team members than we do. We could encounter other teams at control stops or on the road, especially towards the beginning of the race before the teams stretch out along the Stuart Highway.

Structure of a World Solar Challenge Day
All times are approximate — depending on what time we hit control stops the day before, we could arrive at any point throughout the day. For example, we started day two with 26 minutes of control stop! And the sunrise/sunset times vary as we travel south and further into the Australian spring, so they are different each day by a few minutes. Nevertheless, this is a rough outline of how our days on the road go.

5:30am The team wakes up before sunrise to choose an array standing location. We need to pick a place with level ground and no obstructions that might shade the array any time in the next two hours.

5:59am (approximate) Sunrise. We want the car in full upright array standing position right as the sun rises above the horizon, but we don’t turn it on until the array will create more power than the car’s systems draw at rest. This will be about 10 minutes after sunrise.

6:30am The team takes turns monitoring and cooling the array. When not with the car, we are packing up our stuff, taking down the tents, and eating breakfast.

7:50am By now everyone has eaten and the trailer is loaded with tents and personal gear. We bring the car back to level ground, lift it onto saw horses to put on farings, and spray down the array one last time.

7:59am Everyone in the Chase or Lead vehicles is in their place and the telemetry system is running. People from Scout and Trailer make sure the Solar Car driver is properly strapped in and everything is closed up completely.

8:00am We’re off! Lead starts down the road while Scout and Trailer team members guide the solar car to the Stuart Highway, with Chase right behind. Radio communication between the four support vehicles and Solar Car ensures everyone is on the same page.

9:00am Someone in Scout receives a call on the satellite phone from KZSU, the Stanford radio station. We give an update on our agenda for the day and answer general questions about solar car racing and WSC.

12:00pm We roll into the first control stop of the day. This will typically be about 300km from where we started. Because it’s close to solar noon, there is no need for full array standing to normalize the array; instead, we angle the car appropriately and put the car up on chocks as required to get the best angle.

12:30pm The control stop is over, and we’re back on the road. Team members will have shuffled roles, and no one who was driving any convoy vehicle in the first shift will be driving in the second.

4:00pm We hit the second control stop of the day. Since it’s later in the day, we are likely to do full array standing.

4:30pm The control stop is over, but we have a very short shift before the end of the day so we could keep people in their same roles. It will depend on how everyone is feeling — we don’t want any over-tired drivers! The team sends Scout ahead to find a good campsite for the night.

5:00pm End of day. We have 10 minutes from end of the day to find a suitable place to stop, but hopefully Scout will have found one already.

5:10pm The car is situated near our campsite and we have it set up for full array standing as the sun goes down. Convoy vehicles have parked to block wind as much as possible, but out of the way of the sun, and we make sure we are visible from the road so the parent RVs can find us.

6:30pm WSC officials stop by for a visit and to check in with our Observer. They are staying at a roadhouse somewhere nearby and are driving the Stuart Highway to check on teams camped in this area. They may have updates for for us about other teams’ progress.

6:55pm The sun dips below the horizon. While it’s still light out, we will have unloaded the trailer, set up our tents, and the parents will have started dinner. Now, we take the car down from array standing and put it up on saw horses for the end-of-day mech check.

7:30pm The mech check is done. The mechanical team has checked brakes, tires, suspension, vinyl, and anything else that might be worse for the ware from a long day in the Outback. Since the sun is already down, we’ve been using head lamps to see. We load the solar car into the trailer for the night, with the battery locked in one of our other vehicles under the observer’s watchful eye.

7:45pm Dinner is served. During testing this would be something quick — spaghetti with canned green beans and tomatoes and corned beef, for example. During the race, we have parents tagging along with our convoy to make us much more complicated meals with far fresher meat and vegetables. One night we had kangaroo steaks, lamb chops, quinoa salad, and grilled portobelo mushrooms!

8:00pm Team meeting. We go over what went well today and what we could have done better, discuss what we know and don’t know about other teams, and the Race Lead announces team assignments for the first shift tomorrow.

9:00pm Everyone gets ready for bed, with anyone who will be driving a convoy vehicle in the morning or Solar Car at any time tomorrow getting to bed with most priority.

9:30pm Media Liaison makes a call to KZSU, making sure to be far enough from the tents that talking won’t wake anyone up. An alumni or current SSCP member back home at Stanford joins in.

10:00pm Everyone is asleep. The stars are out, the cars are locked, and the Solar Car is tucked away under its array blanket in its trailer.

Since we’ve been traveling south, the daylight hours are longer, which means earlier wakeup times for array standing. The morning of Day Four brought our earliest sunrise yet, around 5:54am, so we were up at 5:20 to get ready to take full advantage of the early morning rays. By now we are comfortable maneuvering the car in the blue light before dawn.

Arctan array standing with the convoy vehicles. Photo Credits Hayden Hall
Arctan array standing with the convoy vehicles. Photo Credits Hayden Hall

This morning’s breakfast was scrambled eggs courtesy of the parent chefs, along with more great coffee brought all the way from California. We set off for the day at 8:10am, ten minutes past official start time since we stopped ten minutes late last night, and arrived in Coober Pedy around 11am. It was windy and sunny but not too hot, and the flies weren’t as bad as we expected. The further south we go, the more pleasant the desert temperature is, but the more flies we encounter.

Yesterday Anna T had a morning shift and a late afternoon shift with a break shift in between, so today Anna O has the double shift. Both drivers are still on top of it and handling the gusty weather very well. The region from the South Australia border to Glendambo seems the windiest of anywhere we’ve been, but we have a lot of experience driving here since it’s where we did all of our test driving. Due to the headwinds and crosswinds, however, we had to set a lower cruise speed to compensate.

Jamie Goldfield carrying team bags to set up camp. Photo Credits Hayden Hall
Jamie Goldfield carrying team bags to set up camp. Photo Credits Hayden Hall

Later in the day we cruised through the long, straight, flat stretches of the southern Outback towards Port Augusta. We camped about 100km north of the last control stop — our first campsite with cell service! Tomorrow is the last leg, but it’s a crucial and tricky one. See you in Adelaide!

Sunset over the campsite. Photo Credits Rachel Abril
Sunset over the campsite. Photo Credits Rachel Abril

Today we traveled from north of Alice Springs to past the South Australia border. The parents joining our convoy treated us to a lovely omelet breakfast, then headed straight to Alice Springs separate from the main convoy to restock on fresh produce and meat for the next couple days. Meanwhile, the convoy set cruise to high 80s and reached the Alice Springs control stop mid-morning. We were joined by the Hungarian team Megalux at that control stop — they’ve been right on our tail since Day One!

Dan Fiore making breakfast for the team. Photo Credits Gawan Fiore
Dan Fiore making breakfast for the team. Photo Credits Gawan Fiore

The drive from Alice Springs to Kulgera was a slower one, since the hilly, windy route was socked in with clouds. Hopefully the teams ahead of us were forced to slow under the less-than-ideal conditions, too! Around Kulgera the sky started to clear, and as we headed toward the Northern Territory/South Australia border it got ever sunnier, but also windier.

We finished off the day at 5:10, the latest time allowed within our 10-minute window for the end of the day, at a campsite south of Marla. We reached kilometer marker 1973 from the start of WSC in Darwin — almost 2,000 km in three days! It was gusty and chilly as the sun went down.

Array standing Arctan in the evening. Photo Credits Hayden Hall
Array standing Arctan in the evening. Photo Credits Hayden Hall

The parents treated us to a fantastic barbecue dinner of kangaroo steaks, lamb chops, and grilled portobellos, egg plant, and zucchini, along with our favorite green papaya salad from a Thai restaurant in Alice Springs we visited three times in our brief time there during test drives. Food always tastes better in the outback, but this meal would have been fabulous no matter where we ate it. The team has fallen into a comfortable rhythm and everyone is used to their various positions. It’s crazy to think how close to finished we are!

The second race day began at Dunmarra, the second control stop of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. The team was in seventh place, behind other top competitors. After serving out the rest of the control stop time in the morning, we were off South. Arctan handled the next part of the course well, which is one of the hilliest stretches of the Stuart Highway. In the late afternoon, the convoy arrived at the third control stop, Barrow Creek. We were greeted there by the friendly homestead keeper we met on our travels north to Darwin the week earlier.

Alex Lubkin and Anna Olson with the bar keeper from Barrow Creek. Photo Credits Emily Henriksson
Alex Lubkin and Anna Olson with the bar keeper from Barrow Creek. Photo Credits Emily Henriksson

After the control stop, the team proceeded further south. We passed Devil’s Marbles, which is an amazing geologic formation.

Arctan passing Devil's Marbles. Photo Credits Rachel Abril
Arctan passing Devil’s Marbles. Photo Credits Rachel Abril

At the end of the day, we stopped at a small rest area off the side of the highway. Arctan finished the day sixth in the polls, about an hour behind the leading pack. After array standing in the evening, the parents set up an excellent citronella candlelight dinner to keep the flies away. Who knew we would have such luxury in the Outback. The tacos and apple crumble were amazing! Stay posted for an exciting third day.

Candlelight Dinner Prepared by Loie, Dan, Morgan, and Andrew! Photo Credits Alex Lubkin

The team arrived in Darwin, Northern Territory Sunday night, glad to have a home to call our own for the week. The next day, everyone was busy preparing Arctan for scrutineering. On Tuesday morning, we woke up at 8:30 am for our static scrutineering session. Static scrutineering involves a range of checks by WSC officials, including electrical, mechanical, battery, and dimensional inspections. SSCP was the first team to pass electrical! We passed nearly every station by the end of the first session. After making a few adjustments, we passed static scrutineering as the third overall team, and second challenger class team.

The team discussing with an official during Static Scrutineering. Photo Credits Alex Lubkin
The team discussing with an official during Static Scrutineering. Photo Credits Alex Lubkin

Thursday the team arrived at Hidden Valley Raceway, the location of pits for vehicle work, track test driving and dynamic scrutineering.  The track testing went well, with Arctan showing good stability and lap times. We were fortunate to have Michael Busby from Performance Driving Australia with us to help advise on proper track driving. Michael additionally provided convoy and safe driving instruction to the whole team.

The team celebrating Michael's 26th birthday! Photo Credits Darren Chen
The team celebrating Michael’s 26th birthday! Photo Credits Darren Chen

After concluding testing for the day, the team had an opportunity to let down, and we all went go-karting! It was both educational and fun for the solar car drivers as well as the rest of the team. That evening, we attended the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge barbecue. It was great meeting people from other teams all over the world!

The team Go Karting near the Hidden Valley Raceway. Photo Credits Gawan Fiore
The team Go Karting near the Hidden Valley Raceway. Photo Credits Gawan Fiore

Friday morning the team and Arctan were back at Hidden Valley to conclude track testing. In the afternoon, we made final preparations for dynamic scrutineering. All of the team’s parents who would be helping with keeping the team fed and happy during the race itself had arrived by the weekend. Thank you to all of them for their dedication and hard work!

Testing Arctan at the Hidden Valley Raceway. Photo Credits Rachel Abril
Testing Arctan at the Hidden Valley Raceway. Photo Credits Rachel Abril

Saturday morning, the team arrived early at the track for dynamic scrutineering. Dynamic scrutineering involves a hot lap, which is used for starting line placement, brake testing, and turning radius testing. Arctan performed well, passing the tests and running a lap time of just over 2:10. The lap time placed us 13th on the starting line, and 11th in the challenger class. That afternoon and evening, the team was busy finalizing convoy packing for the race.

Arctan with over 40 other solar cars from around the world at the end of Dynamic Scrutineering. Photo Credits Rachel Abril
Arctan with over 40 solar cars from around the world after Dynamic Scrutineering. Photo Credits Rachel Abril

We were up at 4:00 am the next morning, and off at five. Arctan was on public display near the starting line with the 42 other teams competing. Around 8:40am Arctan set off to begin the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge! Check out www.worldsolarchallange.org to see live coverage of race time and position. Stay posted on our blog, Twitter, and Facebook to keep up to date with day-to-day race activities.

Arctan off the start line in Darwin, Northern Territory. Photo Credits Rachel Abril
Arctan off the start line in Darwin, Northern Territory. Photo Credits Rachel Abril

Day one of the World Solar Challenge is done! We made it to the second control stop, Dunmarra, just as the racing day was ending, pulling in at 4:56pm. There were two other teams, Megalux and Punch Powertrain, who joined us in Dunmarra for the night where we stayed at a roadhouse campground.

Array Standing with Megalux and Punch Powertrain. Photo Credits Rachel Abril
Array Standing next to Punch Powertrain. Photo Credits Rachel Abril

Our first day was without incident, but by no means uneventful. Navigating out of the city with all of the other teams presented a host of challenges, since track time order does not correspond well with road speed. We passed several teams on the road toward the start of the day, and were passed by a few later in the morning. Mostly, we were passed by media cars, who would hover in the righthand lane hanging cameras out the window to photograph the solar car. World Solar Challenge officials frown on this behavior because it is clearly risky to be in the oncoming lane, so when we take media photos we pull off the road and let them drive past.

Logan Herrera, Jamie Goldfield, and Guillermo Gomez at the start line with Arctan at the start line. Photo Credits Hayden Hall
Logan Herrera, Jamie Goldfield, and Guillermo Gomez at the start line with Arctan at the start line. Photo Credits Hayden Hall

During the morning we hit just about every red light possible on the way out of the city, then entered hilly country and crested the steepest hill on the course around 10am. Arctan handled it like a champ and made it up no problem. Later, the Stuart Highway passed through a brush fire, with lots of smoke in the air and some flames visible on the left side of the road. Not great for charging the solar array when it’s so smoky!

Brush fire on the side of the Stuart Highway. Photo Credits Kelsey Josund
Brush fire on the side of the Stuart Highway. Photo Credits Kelsey Josund

We hit the first control stop in Katherine after about four hours of driving, joining all of the top teams around noon. It was very cool to check out Nuon, Twente, Tokai, and Michigan all array standing. In the afternoon, we pushed towards Dunmarra, where we stayed for the night. There are five teams clustered about an hour ahead of us, and four clustered right around us. We are solidly in the top ten Challenger class teams as of today, but it’s a crowded field, with all of us fairly close together and so far all running smooth races. We will see what day two brings!

PDA Motorsport Logo

For the first time, this cycle we brought in a professional to teach us about driving — both in convoys and as a solar car. For three of the days the team was in Darwin, Michael Busby of Performance Driving Australia was at our disposal to help us all become better drivers, whether that meant refreshing our memory on basic drivers’ ed, going over Australian road rules, or coaching us on how professional race teams approach scrutineering and hot laps.

We reached out to Performance Driving Australia and asked them about training in Darwin before we realized they do not have a location here, and they generously flew an instructor out from Adelaide to join us. Having the training in the Northern Territory, where the instructor could see Arctan in action on the track, was extremely helpful. And our convoy drivers gained a lot from having the class after they had become familiar with the rigors of the Stuart Highway; the lessons had far more context this way.

We spent a significant portion of time working with Michael to make sure our convoy drivers are as safe and capable as possible during the long hours ahead in WSC. He had very useful suggestions for best practices when towing a trailer, gave us tips on how to share the road with wildlife and road trains, and explained how to drive in Australia, besides just being on the left side of the road. His advice made us all more comfortable with passing roadtrains or even using roundabouts!

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Then, he joined us at the track and rode in the observer seat in chase while all of our drivers got track time. Michael’s background in rally driving means he’s comfortable on a track in a way we are not, and he helped us figure out the best way to take the corners and when to accelerate on straightaways — both in chase and in the solar car. All of the solar car drivers rode in chase when not in Arctan, so they got to hear his advice to every other driver, too.

birthday
Beyond all of that, Michael is just a really cool guy. He spent his birthday with us (happy birthday!!!) rather than on vacation, and joined us for go-karting in addition to all his help. His lessons and suggestions will be indispensable, and we look forward to seeing him in Adelaide at the finish line!