UC Berkeley team CalSol comes in 2nd place in solar-powered vehicle competition

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On July 8, CalSol, a campus solar vehicle team, won the Formula Sun Grand Prix, or FSGP, an annual nationwide solar vehicle track race.

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CalSol — UC Berkeley’s student nonprofit organization that designs, builds, tests and races fully solar-powered vehicles — came in second place with its ninth-generation solar car, Tachyon, in the multi-occupant vehicle, or MOV, category at the 2019 Formula Sun Grand Prix, or FSGP.

The FSGP is a three-day race where solar-powered cars compete in different categories, such as MOV and single-occupant vehicle, or SOV. The goal set forth to competitors in the FSGP is to complete as many laps as possible in a total of 24 hours — eight hours per day for three days.

According to the team’s official blog, CalSol did “much better than we expected” by coming in second in the MOV category. The UC Berkeley team also got the Dr. James Hill Sportsmanship Award at the race, according to CalSol Program Director Seth Frank.

“We are extremely excited by our recent success and are inspired to continue pushing the envelope of solar power,” Frank said in an email.

Over the years, CalSol has been successful in the FSGP — in the SOV category, the team won first place in the 2017 race and second in 2018. This year, CalSol ran its ninth-generation car — its first multi-occupant vehicle.

According to the CalSol team website, the team must keep its drivers and cars in the best conditions possible and “maximize their lap count for each day” of the race. During the race, quick repairs and driver swaps can be made when necessary.

The next step for the CalSol team is the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, a “grueling road race across the continent of Australia,” according to Frank. Frank affirmed that the team is optimistic following its performance in Texas.

“We’re confident in our car and our team, but the Outback has a brand new set of challenges that we haven’t faced since 2011,” Frank stated.

With the goal of contributing to a more environmentally friendly future with solar cars, the team is also working on continuing to optimize and upgrade Tachyon and beginning the design of its 10th-generation car.

Contact Yasmin Cristina Graeml at [email protected].