Stanford Solar Car Project
The Stanford Solar Car Project (SSCP) is a student group at Stanford University that designs, builds, tests, and races solar-powered vehicles. The SSCP, a student-run, donation-funded organization, has been building and racing solar-powered vehicles since 1986. The team's most recent car, Luminos, was unveiled in the summer of 2013 and went on to place 4th in the world in the Challenger Class of the World Solar Challenge, making the Stanford Solar Car Project the best undergraduate team in the world and the best solar car team on the Western Hemisphere, as of 2013. Luminos is the team's most successful vehicle in its 25-year history, proving sturdy and reliable. With 10,000 safe miles successfully logged, Luminos continues to operate as a test vehicle, new member training platform, and general outreach tool to inspire the public and students of all ages.
Before Luminos, Xenith (ZEE-nith), was unveiled on August 11, 2011 and placed 11th in the 2011 World Solar Challenge in Australia. Xenith features a three-wheel steering system, glass encapsulated solar panels, and a high efficiency electric motor. The team's ninth car, Apogee, placed 4th in its class and 10th overall at the 2009 Global Green Challenge in Australia, and 4th overall in the 2010 American Solar Challenge.
The Stanford Solar Car Project has historically prided itself on being a completely student-run project. There is no faculty involvement at a managerial or technical level; faculty involvement is limited to advocacy and fundraising.
The project is open to Stanford students in all fields of study and seeks to educate groups on and off campus about applied engineering and renewable energy. Official meetings occur on Monday nights and Saturday afternoons at the Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Lab, a building shared with the Stanford DARPA Grand Challenge team, the Dynamic Design Lab, and other automotive research groups. However, work on the car continues at all times during the week, especially in the weeks and months leading up to a race.
Luminos was the fastest and most successful car in the SSCP’s 24-year history, placing 4th overall in the 2013 World Solar Challenge. Nearly two years of planning, design, fundraising, logistics, building, testing, and dedication have came together to produce what was the best characterized and most thoroughly tested vehicle in our project’s history. We challenged ourselves to go back to the drawing board and build a car that was based on sound engineering theory and principles, beautifully straightforward in design and construction, and tested to be the most reliable and efficient vehicle in the history of our team. The vehicle houses several major innovations under its smoothly understated exterior. For the first time in the history of SSCP, we have designed and constructed our own drive motors – one on each front wheel. These motors have a high 98% efficiency while allowing for a significantly-superior mechanical design. Our array was once again designed and encapsulated by members of our own team. It uses mono-crystalline silicon solar cells from Sunpower that have one of the highest production conversion efficiencies available in the world today, as well as a 3M-designed anti-reflective layer that also has excellent aerodynamic properties. The aerodynamic design of the car has achieved a lower tested drag value than many cars that competed under the old, less restrictive rules, and in fact closely rivals the optimum wind tunnel performance of our previous car, Xenith, while being significantly more robust to messy real-world conditions. Finally, our team’s excellent skills in electrical and software design have produced our most efficient, durable, and reliable electrical system to date.
Xenith is the Stanford Solar Car Project's 2011 entry for the 2011 World Solar Challenge. Xenith is a 375 pound vehicle that is powered entirely by the sun. It has a 4-inch thin chassis made of carbon fiber composites, titanium, and aluminum. The vehicle's two front wheels are controlled by a normal rack and pinion steering wheel, and the rear wheel is controlled by a linear actuator. The vehicle can travel at 55-60 mph under sun power alone, and it can reach higher speeds when using the reserve battery pack. The vehicle is the first solar powered car to use flexible glass for panel encapsulation. The ultra high efficiency silicon panels use prototype glass from Corning and cells from SunPower. The team uses a custom 98% efficient motor for the vehicle. An in house developed software program allows the team to model sunlight and shadows during the race in order to plan race strategies.
The Stanford Solar Car Project has a long history of designing and racing innovative solar powered race cars. Past cars include SUnSUrfer, SUnBurner, AfterBurner, AfterBurner II, Third Degree Burner, BackBurner (an alumni project), Back 2 Back Burner, Solstice, Equinox, Apogee, and Xenith.
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