Blue Sky Solar Racing

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Blue Sky Solar Racing

Blue Sky Solar Racing Official Logo

Established 1997
Affiliation University of Toronto
Industry Solar Car Racing
Latest Vehicle B-7

Blue Sky Solar Racing is a student-run initiative at the University of Toronto. The team aims to promote environmentally friendly technologies through the design, construction and showcasing of world class solar powered vehicles. The project encourages students to participate in a long-term multidisciplinary project to augment their skills learned in class, and to make a positive impact on their community.

Since its foundation in 1997, the team has produced seven vehicles that competed in a total of eight international solar car racing competitions. Their most recent vehicle, B-7, was ranked 8th at the World Solar Challenge 2013, and 1st in Canada.[1]

In addition to racing, the Blue Sky team also actively participates in community events to promote environmental awareness and innovation in technology.[2] Through attending showcase events in schools around Toronto, the team has generated a great deal of public interest in science and engineering while also educating students about environmental issues.

The team is currently working on its eighth generation vehicle to compete in the World Solar Challenge 2015.


Cerulean, 5th generation car
Blue Sky Solar Racing Directors 2007

Design Philosophy[edit]

The Blue Sky Solar Racing Team firmly believes that a passion for excellence is the greatest driving force in creating a competitive world-class solar vehicle. By fusing the team’s tradition of excellence with the experience gained over the years, this will form a firm foundation for developing future generations of Blue Sky vehicles.[3]

Project Objectives[edit]

  • Demonstrate excellence in education through the design and construction of world-class solar racing vehicles that will represent the University of Toronto on the international stage.
  • Advance critical thinking skills by combining higher learning with doing.
  • Facilitate multi-disciplinary communication and community growth by combining a wide range of specializations on issues of industrial design and technological growth as they impact the environment and social values.
  • Enhance the student experience by engaging communities, both locally and abroad in promoting renewable energy technology and application.
  • Promote alternative and renewable energy technologies.
  • Promote science and engineering as an exciting career path for younger students.[4]

Team Structure[edit]

The Blue Sky Solar Racing Team is a multidisciplinary team composed of undergraduate, graduate students and alumni volunteers from the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, the Faculty of Arts & Science, and the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.[5] With over 1000 members from a diverse background since the start of the team, the team is able to offer a unique perspective on issues of sustainability and technological advancement. Team members are committed to demonstrating the viability of alternative energy technology and the practical benefits of a multidisciplinary approach to solving problems.

Team History[edit]

The First Vehicle[edit]

In 1997, the Blue Sky Solar Racing Team produced its first solar powered vehicle named Blue Sky Project.[6] Being the very first car, Blue Sky Project served as a test bed to work out the organizational and operational relationships required to build a car that was capable of qualifying and participating in competition. The project was deemed as a success.[citation needed] The successful freshman effort gave the team a firm foundation to further expand its capabilities to compete with other well-established Canadian solar car racing teams such as Midnight Sun Solar Race Team and Queen's University Solar Vehicle Team.

Florida SunDay Challenge 1997[edit]

As Blue Sky Solar Racing Team’s freshman effort in the competitive scene of solar car racing, Florida SunDay Challenge 1997 served as a proof that the University of Toronto had the capability to produce world-class solar vehicles despite their inexperience. Ranking 3rd overall in the competition[1] with their first vehicle – Blue Sky Project, the rookie team’s impressive results fueled their expansion and development. Participation in the race also gave the team an invaluable learning experience which formed the foundation of the team’s later innovations.

SunRayce '99[edit]

Blue Sky Solar Racing Team’s Blue II competed in SunRayce '99 in Orlando, Florida. Finishing 9th in the qualifying round, Blue II showed great promise. However, the race was struck with poor weather conditions throughout the competition and recharging the solar vehicle became a great challenge for the team. The team was forced to adjust their racing strategy and optimize their power usage under the new weather constraints so they did not exhaust the battery. Despite such poor weather conditions, Blue II traveled over 2250 km over a span of 9 days and ranked 20th overall in the competition. The team was also awarded "Best Rookie Team" in recognition of their achievements in the race.[7]

World Solar Challenge 2001[edit]

With the team’s third generation solar vehicle, Faust, the team toke on the world stage for the first time at the World Solar Challenge. Faust ran a perfect race without a single mishap and not once was there an emergency during the racing that required Faust to be pulled over. For 5 days straight, the team drove for 8 hours through the Australian continent covering 3010 km in total. The team ranked 14th overall in the competition, besting many teams with years of experience; an excellent achievement for a rookie team.[8]

American Solar Challenge 2001[edit]

The American Solar Challenge 2001 served as one of the greatest challenges that Blue Sky Solar Racing Team has faced to date. Crossing seven states, Blue Sky’s third generation vehicle, Faust, was tasked with overcoming long stretches of rough terrain. This put the vehicle’s handling and stability to the test as solar vehicles are rarely designed to withstand such a beating. The rough road conditions of the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains caused havoc to the suspension system in the vehicle and caused a cascade effect throughout other systems. Quick, temporary fixes were implemented when breakdowns occurred during official race hours, and long nights of repair would ensue at the end of each race day. After several sleepless nights, the team completed the 3595 km race in 79 hours 8 minutes and 57 seconds, which included 10 hours of penalties. The team ranked 12th in the competition and was one of the few teams that were able to fully complete the race.[9]

American Solar Challenge 2003[edit]

With experience of the competition’s grueling road conditions, Blue Sky Solar Racing Team returned to the American Solar Challenge in 2003 with Faust II, the successor to Blue Sky’s vehicle in their first American Solar Challenge attempt. Traveling over across 8 states from Chicago, Illinois, to Los Angeles, California, Faust II proved to be an extremely capable race car. In contrast to American Solar Challenge 2001, Faust II was able to traverse the grueling terrain with no major on-road difficulties due to the improvements made to the vehicle. Logging 79 hours, 51 minutes, and 39 seconds of race time, Blue Sky captured 11th place overall and placed first out of all teams of equivalent solar array technology.[10] The team was also presented with the American Solar Challenge Safety Award for outstanding safety practices during the competition.

Blue Sky inspecting the Cerulean

World Solar Challenge 2007[edit]

Blue Sky Solar Racing Team’s fifth generation solar vehicle, Cerulean, participated in the Panasonic World Solar Challenge 2007 and finished with spectacular results. Traveling 3000 km across the Australian outback, Cerulean completed the race in 46 hours and 19 minutes with a top speed of 118 km/h. The team ranked 5th in the Adventure class which was the highest placing amongst all Canadian teams in the competition.[11]

World Solar Challenge 2011[edit]

In 2011, Blue Sky Solar entered the World Solar Challenge for the first time in four years. Their sixth generation vehicle, Azure, placed 24th in the Challenger class of the race. [1]

World Solar Challenge 2013[edit]

B-7, the team's seventh generation vehicle, placed eighth in the World Solar Challenge 2013, 2nd among North American teams, and first among Canadian teams, in the Challenger class. [1]


As of the start of 2015, the team is finalizing design and beginning fabrication of the eighth generation vehicle. The vehicle is designed to compete in the World Solar Challenge 2015. [12]

Race Results[edit]

Year Race Place Honours
2013 World Solar Challenge 8th
2011 World Solar Challenge 24th
2007 World Solar Challenge 5th
2003 American Solar Challenge 11th Safety Award
2001 American Solar Challenge 12th
2001 World Solar Challenge 14th
1999 SunRayce 20th Top Rookie Team
1997 Florida Sunday Challenge 3rd

Car Models[edit]

Blue Sky Project[edit]

Blue Sky Project

As Blue Sky Solar Racing’s first project, Blue Sky Project served as an experimental effort for the team to learn more about the production of solar vehicles. The vehicle was designed as a single-seated four-wheeler with a weight of 850 lbs.[13] The project was completed in 1997 and was immediately put to test at the Florida SunDay Challenge 1997. The vehicle achieved extremely encouraging results for the rookie team and created a solid foundation and strong motivation for the team to continue developing solar vehicles.

Weight: 850 lbs
Power: 650 watts, 14% silicon solar cells
Batteries: Lead-acid
Competitions: Florida SunDay Challenge 1997 – 3rd Place

Blue II[edit]

Blue II

Upon the success of the Blue Sky Project, Blue Sky Solar Racing decided to immediately begin production of an improved solar vehicle – Blue II. With a much greater power output than the Blue Sky Project, Blue II was capable of achieving a top speed of 110 km/h and it was as a key milestone in the technical development of the team.[7] Blue II was completed in 1999 and competed in SunRayce '99. After the vehicle was decommissioned, it served for several years as the main display in the team’s community education events in recognition of its milestone achievements.

Weight: 968 lbs
Power: 750 watts, 15% silicon solar cells
Batteries: Lead-acid
Competitions: SunRayce '99 – 20th Place + Top Rookie Award



After learning from the experiences of their previous experimental vehicles, Blue Sky Solar Racing was prepared to make a splash on the international stage. In the design of their third generation vehicle – Faust – the team focused on several key concepts to produce a solar vehicle that was competitive in international competitions; mainly, to minimize drag and weight. This led to several drastic departures in their design traditions. First of all, in contrast to Blue II, Faust was designed as a three-wheeler to minimize rolling resistance and decrease the overall weight of the vehicle.[14] Secondly, the chassis for Faust was made of an extremely lightweight hollow tube aluminum space frame which decreased the overall weight of the vehicle to only 440 lbs, nearly half of the weight of Blue II.[13] These departures in design lead to vast performance improvements which made it possible for the vehicle to achieve a top speed of 140 km/h. Construction Faust was completed in 2001 and it participated in two competitions in the same year.

Weight: 620 lbs
Power: 950 watts, 16.2% silicon solar cells
Batteries: Lithium ion-polymer
Competitions: World Solar Challenge 2001 – 12th place, American Solar Challenge 2001 – 14th place

Faust II[edit]

Faust II

Looking to improve upon the success of Faust, its successor – Faust II – aimed primarily to strengthen the build of the body and reduce weight, thus allowing it to achieve faster speeds. Learning from the damage that the grueling road conditions in the American Solar Challenge 2001 brought to Faust, the team fitted Faust II with a composite fiber cloth body which made it extremely durable while also reducing the vehicle’s body weight by 40 lbs.[15] Several other improvements were also made to the battery and motor of the vehicle. Production of Faust II was completed in 2003 and it participated in the American Solar Challenge 2003.

Weight: 600 lbs
Power: 1050 watts, 16.8% silicon solar cells
Batteries: Lithium ion-polymer
Competitions: American Solar Challenge 2003 – 11th Place + Safety Award



While in the production phase of Faust II, Blue Sky Solar Racing began design on their fifth generation vehicle – Cerulean. Unlike its predecessors, Cerulean was designed as a double-seater vehicle; this allowed the team challenge themselves by attempting a new solar vehicle design with entirely different specifications and constraints.

As a double-seater vehicle, the team was allowed to double the solar array output to 2300W and the motor power output to 13.4 hp.[16] The team was also capable of keeping the vehicle lightweight by constructing a chassis from carbon board rails, thus minimizing the weight at 500 lbs.[13] Despite being their first attempt at constructing a double-seater solar vehicle, Cerulean proved to be their most successful vehicle to date. With construction complete in 2007, Cerulean participated in the World Solar Challenge 2007 and placed 5th in its class, ranking it the highest amongst all Canadian teams.

Weight: 850 lbs (two passenger)
Power: 2000 W 27% GaAs solar cells
Batteries: Lithium polymer
Competitions: World Solar Challenge 2007 – 5th Place in Adventure Class


Blue Sky Solar Racing’s sixth generation vehicle, Azure, placed 24th in the World Solar Challenge 2011, in the Challenger Class. The design of the vehicle was guided by three requirements: The vehicle must be able to achieve high speeds yet have low power consumption, exhibit great stability at high speeds yet have a low drag value, and have a great safety margin in critical components yet remain lightweight.[17]

The vehicle was officially unveiled on August 6, 2011.[18]


On July 28th, 2013, Blue Sky Solar unveiled its seventh generation vehicle, B-7. [19] The car features a five-fairing design, lithium-ion battery pack, a 1300W Silicon array, and a weight of 500 lbs without driver. B-7 placed eighth in the World Solar Challenge 2013, 2nd among North American teams, and first among Canadian teams, in the Challenger class. [1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Race Results. "History". Blue Sky Solar Racing. Retrieved 2015-1-10
  2. ^ Education and Community Events. "B-7 attends Canada’s largest solar industry event". Blue Sky Solar Racing. Retrieved 2015-1-10
  3. ^ Design Philosophy. "Design Philosophy". Blue Sky Solar Racing. Retrieved 2010-12-11
  4. ^ Project Objectives. "Mission and Objectives". Blue Sky Solar Racing. Retrieved 2010-12-11
  5. ^ Team Composition. "Our Team". Blue Sky Solar Racing. Retrieved 2010-12-12
  6. ^ Team History. "Team History". Blue Sky Solar Racing. Retrieved 2010-12-12
  7. ^ a b "Winter 1999 Newsletter". Blue Sky Solar Racing.
  8. ^ "Spring 2002 Newsletter". Blue Sky Solar Racing
  9. ^ "Summer 2001 Newsletter". Blue Sky Solar Racing.
  10. ^ "Winter 2003 Newsletter". Blue Sky Solar Racing.
  11. ^ "Fall 2007 Newsletter - Panasonic World Solar Challenge Special". Blue Sky Solar Racing. Retrieved 2010-12-12
  12. ^ News. "2015 Race, Honda Indy Toronto, Motorexpo". Blue Sky Solar Racing. Retrieved 2015-1-10
  13. ^ a b c Car History. "Team History". Blue Sky Solar Racing. Retrieved 2010-12-12
  14. ^ "Spring 2000 Newsletter". Blue Sky Solar Racing.
  15. ^ "Fall 2002 Newsletter". Blue Sky Solar Racing.
  16. ^ "Summer 2006 Newsletter". Blue Sky Solar Racing. Retrieved 2010-12-12
  17. ^ Design Philosophy. "Design Philosophy". Blue Sky Solar Racing. Retrieved 2010-12-12
  18. ^ "We present to you: Azure!". Blue Sky Solar Racing. Retrieved 2011-8-30
  19. ^ First Peek of B-7. "Get the first peek of B-7, Blue Sky Solar Racing’s newest solar vehicle". University of Toronto. Retrieved 2015-1-10

See also[edit]

External links[edit]