The University of Michigan Solar Car team took third place at this year’s Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia, the only American team to cross the finish line among more than 40 contenders.
Michigan reached Adelaide, South Australia, on Thursday afternoon, ending their five-day, 1,800-mile race.
“I’m so proud of my entire team,” said Andrew Dickinson, the team’s project manager and computer science junior. “This team had so many curve balls thrown at us when we made this car and we handled every one of them…I’m overjoyed and a little sad it’s over.”
The preparation that went into building Michigan’s car, Electrum, proved worthwhile, and the vehicle only required a few roadside stops. The team’s new lightweight lithium polymer cells, a risk in their design, were a reliable substitute to the traditional lithium ion batteries used in the past.
In addition to a dependable vehicle, Michigan team members kept morale high. The team developed a mantra of “racing our race” to stay focused on their own car rather than opponents.
To qualify for the competition and determine starting position, the teams from around the world were put through rigorous testing. Based on performance in a single lap around a track, Michigan placed 10th in challenger class.
The starting position wasn’t a hurdle. Once the real competition began in Darwin, Northern Australia, the team moved up in the pack, often trading places with Tokai University.
Source: “U-M solar car team secures third place after tense Bridgestone World Solar Challenge”, University of Michigan