CalSol races across Australia in solar car challenge

Facing competition from teams around the globe, a solar vehicle crafted by UC Berkeley students has begun its transcontinental race across Australia in the World Solar Challenge.

The vehicle, Impulse, was engineered by the campus solar team CalSol and started off in 13th place, according to the team’s blog. The team is tasked with completing a roughly 1,800 mile journey from Darwin to Adelaide.

The race began Sunday, but time differences put it about a day ahead of California time. Team members have been in Australia since Sept. 27 for preparation and testing leading up to the start of the race.

According to the blog, the team experienced some turbulence on the first day when it noticed that the batteries were failing to charge. Though the team initially hoped the problem could be solved on the road, it was eventually forced to pull over 45 kilometers outside Darwin in order to fix the vehicle, the blog states.

The team again faced issues on the second day of the race. After a quick start in the morning, the team was confronted with two problems: one with the solar array and another with the car’s batteries, according to the blog.

The solar array suffered a broken connector – which caused the current from the array to drop to about a quarter of a level from normal conditions – while one of the battery cells was severely undercharged. Though the team was able to solve the problems, a brush fire further along the race held up CalSol as well as other leading teams, the blog states.

J.D. Morris is the lead environment reporter.

Please keep our community civil. Comments should remain on topic and be respectful.
Read our full comment policy
  • Don’t forget about the other American solar car teams in the World Solar Challenge!

    Michigan is still in the leader group, in 3rd place.  Stanford is in 10th place, recovering their lead after some motor issues.  Principia is 16th place, MIT is 18th place.  Berkeley is the last American team by standing, in 24th place.

    Unfortunately, the first two teams from the 2009 WSC are back in the same order, Tokai University and Delft University.  Michigan won’t catch the leaders, but the USA is putting forth a good fight in “the most important car race in the world”!

    • Sol Calibear

      I haven’t exactly seen the Stanford Daily give us a shoutout.

      Why are you even reading the Daily Cal if you just want to troll on Berkeley?     Your car’s had problems and fallen out of the running too so why do you have to put down ours?   We’re proud just to have made it this far.  I wouldn’t call driving 750 km and counting a failure on any account.    

      I wouldn’t count Michigan out yet either.    They’re neck and neck with Nuon although Tokai is pulling ahead.

      • @Sol Calibear Sorry, I didn’t mean to come across as a troll.  We love CalSol, I just wanted to give the other American teams a shout-out.  To be honest, I just saw this article pop up on twitter, and I didn’t realize it was the Berkeley newspaper.  

        @Mwmcfall We’re really glad that Cal could come to the World Solar Challenge (one more American team!).  It really is a challenge to finish the race, so best of luck.  And you’re right, we kinda got kicked out of the running by our motor catastrophe on the first day.  And I secretly hope that Michigan beats Tokai (but only to make it feel better when we beat Michigan at the next race).

        It’s great that California has two great solar car teams in this international race.  California is where a lot of the innovation in solar power and electric vehicles is happening, and it’s fun to showcase this innovation through solar car racing.

        • Sol Calibear

          All right we can make up.    This is the first article I’ve seen even mentioning our team during the race, so I was a little upset by your comment and willingness to mark the team as “failed”.   

          Stanford’s been great to work with and I like what I’ve seen of Principia.   I’m glad the teams are so friendly.

          Don’t forget the Canadian teams though!   Eclipse, Midnight Sun, Toronto and Calgary.  They’re in it with us.  I’ll let Michigan get their own media coverage though :P.

    • Mwmcfall

      A friend on the Principia team told me this morning how much they’ve enjoyed getting acquainted with the CalSol team members. Apparently the MIT people are not so much into friendly relationships because they’re battling tooth and nail with the Prin car all day. When Prin rolled into Tennant Creek yesterday they were met by the Cal team people with handfuls of popsicles – just what you need coming off the Stuart highway in the heat of the outback. Also, both American teams were able to help the Philipine team after their car caught fire.

      Malcolm