Now that we’ve been back at MIT for the past two weeks, and [hopefully] caught up on classes, Solar Car is picking up speed again. We’ve done a lot of reflecting on WSC: lessons learned, goals for next races, and of course – the design changes we will be making.
The final results from WSC went up — the provisional results were contested, and WSC officials found a few accounting errors. We moved up one place to 15th, with the same number of solar kilometers (2222).
As many of you may have ascertained from the blog posts of recent weeks, WSC 2011 was a particularly… challenging World Solar Challenge for the MIT team. Along the road to Adelaide we had some times where team morale was not particularly high, and it was often during these times that I made it my role to lighten the mood a bit with some completely serious speculation on methods designed to circumvent certain WSC regulations. By popular request, I am now embarking on a mission to fully explore these interesting and complex ideas and share them with you. As a disclaimer, all of what I detail in “Meant to be Bent” is completely serious. The concepts that follow have been explained to WSC officials in a face-to-face setting, and each one has failed to be disallowed under the current set of rules. That said, I cannot guarantee their compliance with 2013 rules. So now, for Meant to be Bent, Episode I:
MEANT TO BE BENT
Swarm of Insolation Disrupting High Altitude Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (aka SIDHAUAV)
– the concept is that the team will invest in repurposing discarded military drones to automatically track the position of other solar teams’ vehicles during the race day from a high altitude, and maintaining a position directly between the sun of our solar system and that team’s array of solar cells
-the effect is simulated here on the UC Berkeley, Team CalSol’s 2011 vehicle, “Impulse”
– by remaining high enough in the air, the drone can perform its task relatively undetected, by resembling a (strangely persistent) soaring bird
– modifications to the wings may need to be made to increase the shadow size of the craft
– with a fleet of these artificially creating less-than-ideal sun conditions for non-MIT vehicles, we will secure ourselves a nice edge over the competition
Cost: $40 million per drone (possible price break for order of 30+)
Time: full-time project for several aerospace engineers, electrical engineers, and computer science seniors / grad students
– training actual birds to block insolation
– mirror/lens/fiber optic system on drones to redirect intercepted sunlight to MIT array for further advantage