Sponsor Spotlight: 3M

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If you’ve made it to our corner of the internet, chances are you’ve heard of 3M. Post-it notes, scotch tape, 3M products are everywhere, but those of us on the MIT Solar Electric Vehicle Team know that 3M is so much bigger than that. In fact, Arcturus would never have come into being without the help of 3M products. As a long-standing platinum sponsor of our team, 3M has supported us over many different cars and races, so we wanted to take a moment to spotlight how their contribution keeps our team sticking together and our cars running smoothly.

One of my favorite 3M products that we use on the team are the 3M Speedglass welding helmets. The range of darkness settings and sensitivities on these helmets allow for the safest and most effective welding experience- especially important for new welders who already have their hands full learning the TIG welding ballet.

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In addition to keeping us safe while welding, 3M products play a critical role in our composite layup process and the subsequent body work. Cumulatively, the team spent over 150 hours sanding and finishing the body after the layup (a process that was many hundreds of hours on its own). Without key 3M products like the sandpaper and sanding fairing shown below, we would have been hopeless.

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When we’re at the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge next month, we’ll be thinking of 3M every morning when we tape up the fairings and seams of the car with this beautiful vinyl tape.

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Our team is very grateful for the continued support of 3M, and we hope all of our sponsors and supporters are proud to be a part of our journey to race in Australia.

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Shipping Arcturus

On August 10 the whole team was able to breath a sigh of relief. Arcturus was dropped off at the port, and on its way to Australia (you can track exactly where here). We were essentially done, we couldn’t work on Arcturus anymore, and the next time we would see it would be in Darwin. we had worked tirelessly to get to this point.

As previously mentioned UPS is sponsoring the shipping of Arcturus to Australia. They were extremely helpful with not only the shipping but with working out the paperwork, and the other logistics. However there was still paperwork, and lots lots of it. We weren’t just shipping our car, but also all of our tools, and supplies that we needed, as well as our hopes and dreams. So how this all actually got shipped was in our trailer. we loaded Arcturus into our trailer, and then filled the space below it with all of our supplies, tools, etc. The team then had some great time to bond over looking up every item we were shipping, and finding their official classification. The other big hurdle was shipping our batteries, which are Lithium-Ion. Lithium-ion batteries have great energy density but also are very temperamental, and can catch fire if put in the wrong conditions. We worked with a packaging company to package the batteries so that they would be safe for the whole shipping process.

The Trailer all packed

Now with all the paperwork and packaging done it was time to actually drop off the trailer at the port. There was one problem with this though. Freight ships like big rectangular boxes, and our trailer is definitely not one of those. So first we had to have our trailer put in a shipping container. To prevent any hick-ups we wanted to be at Harbor Freight, who was putting our trailer in said containers, when they opened at Newark Port. This meant we had to leave Boston at 0200; we some how managed to leave at 0130. By the time we reached New York City the sun was rising which gave us some nice pictures. Once we got there it was surprisingly easy to drop off the trailer. Once they opened (we arrived almost an hour early) we just had to complete some final paperwork, and then just parked the trailer by their warehouse, and headed back. It felt a little anti-climatic for such a long journey to get to this point, but it was nice to no longer have to worry about what needed to be done on Arcturus. Although I think I wasn’t ready to accept that Arcturus was finished, as that night I dreamed about working on Arcturus and all the things I had to do on it. But now Arcturus is in Australia, and soon we will join it for the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.

Sunrise over NYC

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Sponsor Spotlight: Infinesse Corporation

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Infinesse Corporation is the longest standing platinum sponsor of our team, and we are very grateful for their generous support. Designing, building, and racing solar cars is an incredibly challenging and ambitious mission for a student group to embark upon, and Infinesse has stood by us through both the good times and the hard times. In 2009, our team was able to visit the Infinesse LA office in person with Eleanor, our car at that time, giving the whole Infinesse team a chance to see our car up close, and giving us the chance to express our gratitude in person. We hope to make the trip back there before too long, but in the mean time, we’ll be racing for them and all our sponsors and supporters in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in just over a month, so stay tuned as we continue to prepare for the race!

Company Information: Infinesse Corporation manufactures and markets telecommunication systems and semiconductor products. It offers radio frequency (RF) semiconductor components and wireless private branch exchange (PBX). The company was founded in 1991 and is based in Los Angeles, California.

 

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Road Trip to Detroit

As we previously mentioned, the team went to Detroit in July! Though the purpose of the trip was for wind tunnel testing, that activity only took one day, so we spent the rest of the week doing some serious road testing and practicing for the upcoming Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. This week of testing gave us valuable experience, allowed for design optimizations to be made, and gave us critical data on Arcturus’s power draw.

For those not familiar with Michigan, they have some very snowy, cold winters, which leads to many of their roads having pot holes. This was great for testing our suspension, but after proving our rugged design, it was time to allow the drivers to have some comfort in the form of a smooth road. We eventually found a suitable route in a rural town outside of Detroit. While driving out in the countryside, we noticed that there was a large thunderstorm forming on the Doppler RADAR. Fearing there might be hail, and with our trailer a few miles away, we sought the only feasible shelter, a gas station. This was definitely a good call, as, within a few minutes of parking Arcturus, a torrential downpour began.

Arcturus at a gas station

This testing was good, but we quickly became limited by the speed limit on our chosen route, so we graduated to testing Arcturus on rural highways. After speaking with the Superintendent, we were able to set up “camp” at a school along the highway we had chosen to test on. The route also had some good hills, which was great for testing.

Beyond testing the car and training our drivers, the road trip was great for meeting people and doing some informal outreach. Almost all of the people we met in Michigan were very kind and intrigued by the car. In fact, one of the teachers we happened to talk to ended up tweeting about us:

We left Michigan at the end of the week. Everyone was exhausted from seven long days of testing and fixing. This week provided great practice and road time to prepare for the 2015 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. We even managed to get back to Boston in time to get the people who flew in for the week to the airport for their flights out. Check out the pictures from the road trip.

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Sponsor Spotlight: UPS and the MIT CTL Support MIT SEVT

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UPS has repeatedly demonstrated a commitment to community, sustainability, and research and has a long-standing relationship with MIT research teams including a partnership with the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics (CTL). We are excited to announce that UPS is MIT SEVT’s newest Gold Sponsor and is supporting our team by handling the shipment of Arcturus to and from Australia for the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. Their expertise has already proven invaluable as we navigate the complex customs process.

 

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It is impossible to discuss our excitement that UPS has joined us as a Gold Sponsor without talking about the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics, our other newest Gold Sponsor. The MIT CTL, Directed by Professor Yossi Sheffi, has lead the field of supply chain management education and research for over 40 years. Partnering with almost 50 companies, from UPS to Wal-Mart to Anheuser-Busch, they perform solution-driven research that changes the way the world runs. The MIT CTL has been an incredible supporter of our team, and we’re thrilled that they have joined us as a Gold Level Sponsor.

As Gold Sponsors, both the UPS and the MIT CTL logos are on Arcturus, so keep your eyes peeled when you see photos of us driving in Australia or at community events when Arcturus returns from Australia this winter.

 

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Arcturus Wind Tunnel Testing

On July 27 Ford donated valuable wind tunnel time that allowed the team to accurately characterize the aerodynamics of Arcturus. Ford has been supporting our team for over a decade: Tesseract, Eleanor, Chopper del Sol, and now Arcturus have all been tested at Ford’s wind tunnel facilities. Ford’s Driveability Test Facility is in Detroit, MI, which is 798 miles from our shop. So we made the 15 hour drive out there with the goal of determining the aerodynamic properties of Arcturus. The most important of these is the power loss caused by drag, which is described by the equation below. P is power lost; ρ is the air density; v is the velocity of the car; A is the frontal area of the car; and Cd is the coefficient of drag.

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The frontal area and the coefficient of drag must be found experimentally. To determine Arcturus’s frontal area, Ford projected a large LASER over the car onto a screen. The dark areas on the screen can then be integrated to find the frontal area.


At first yarn tufts taped to car were used to visualize air streams at the surface of the car while the wind tunnel was running.

To characterize the coefficient of drag, the drag on the car was measured at various air speeds and angles (since C will change with wind direction).  At cruising speed Arcturus has approximately the same amount of drag as sticking your hand out the window on the highway.  

Smoke was then used to visualize airflow above the car’s surface.

 

Pictures from the day:

Introducing… Arcturus!

Photo Credit: Chris Pentacoff

Photo Credit: Chris Pentacoff

Hello world! Meet Arcturus, MIT SEVT’s first four-wheeled car!

After a whirlwind year of designing, building, and testing, Arcturus is now on it’s way to Australia, thanks to the shipping and logistics support of UPS and the MIT CTL. In just over a month, the car and the team will reunite in Darwin, Australia for the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.

Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we recall some of our summer adventures with Arcturus and recognize the generous support of our sponsors. If you’d like to support our team’s efforts, please consider contributing to our Crowdfund MIT Campaign.

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