Daedalus just completed a 3000km journey across the outback of Australia. Our coast to coast journey took us from the hot and humid Desert in the North to the cold windswept plains of southern Australia. On Friday we crossed the official end of timing for the 2013 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. It was amazing hearing the applause of all the teams and spectators when we crossed the official finish line.


While traveling through the outback we encountered problems like many of the teams did. While it was incredibly difficult we stood together and completed the course on Solar Power and took fourth place in the Cruiser Class. We will post more details on the crazy events of the race soon! And a bunch of photos



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Posted on by Greg Nash


Here is a recap of our past week. We logged about 1000km on Daedalus on our way up to Darwin through the outback. Aside from a flat tire Daedalus performed like a champ in the shinning sun of the outback! Daedalus had no problem on the hot roads, road trains or any of the other random surprises in the hot desert.





While traveling the Stuart highway we encountered wild kangaroos, night time wind storms, beautiful scenery and a wonderful views of the Milky-way at night. Many of us can not wait to get back to the remote stretches of the Stuart highway to see the stars at night after racing Daedalus.



We arrived in Darwin last Saturday and went straight to the race track to perform our pre-race checks. What we found was amazing! Around 40 other solar vehicle teams are at the Hidden Valley Raceway preparing their vehicles to compete in the 2013 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge!











We have been putting in long days, rising before the sun is up and leaving long after it has set it. It s a lot of work but it is all worth it.




On Thursday we went through Static Scrutineering. All of our in-vehicle systems passed! We had one minor problem with our battery lock-box that was promptly fixed. We are hoping to get some track time today after Dynamic Scrutineering to get out there to max out our systems and do our final checks.



Daedalus is performing like a champ. She is so fast that our chase vehicle is having trouble keeping up with it on the racetrack!


Tomorrow morning we begin the 2013 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge! We can’t wait to begin.



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After putting Daedalus away in the rain and the cold, it was a delight to bring it back out to this:


This was when we were about to drive on the Stuart highway for the first time. The Stuart highway is a 3000 kilometer road that runs from Darwin in the north of Australia to Adelaide in the south. It’s where 99% of the World Solar Challenge driving takes place. It’s absolutely beautiful.


Because our car was shipped to Melbourne, it is necessary for us to drive north to get to Darwin. Although it takes time, it’s a great opportunity for testing along the actual race route. We had opportunities to test out all of our drivers, and do some actual race-style driver changes, roadside repairs, and tire changes (We didn’t actually blow a tire, but you’ve got to get practice in somehow)




Daedalus has been performing excellently. although braking tests have been more than a little rough on the tires. The good news: the car stops.

As great as the Outback is during the day, it’s even better at night. With no cities around for up to 200 miles at a time, the night sky is brighter than you could believe. We could have stayed in a hotel last night and had showers for the first time in 3 days. We didn’t. It wasn’t a hard choice.


We’re well on our way and should arrive in Darwin in the next couple of days. We can’t wait to get started back down the Stuart Highway. this time on the race!

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Our race crew has been hard at work the past few days getting ready to make our drive from Melbourne up to Darwin! We are all super excited to get to compete in the World Solar Challenge in just 15 days from now! We have the car just about ready to go after unpacking it!

IMG_1282eLuckily for us the weather has become absolutely wonderful and is helping our efforts in prepping Daedalus for the World Solar Challenge. Over the past couple days we have completed our enclosed trailer for transporting Daedalus, completed installing components removed for shipping and are excited to get on the road!




IMG_1281eOur completed enclosed trailer to protect Daedalus while being transported to the race!




Sadly, we have not seen a kangaroo.

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Our advance crew have all arrived in Melbourne, where the weather is clearly beautiful…


…about 10% of the time. Cold weather and rain have made working outdoors a little unpleasant, but as Minnesotans we’re used to it.

The car cleared customs and was ready for pickup from DHL as soon as we landed.

Unboxing Daedalus





Thanks to to some excellent packing by Midwest Crating, Daedalus arrived without a single scratch. It’s great not having to worry about repairing anything; this way we can get on the road sooner.


We’re reassembling everything, preparing our trailer, and making sure the car is good to go before we start doing our first test drives in Australia since Aurora 4, almost 14 years ago. The whole team has been waking up bright and early every day, excited to get the car rolling again (the fact that everyone goes to bed by 9pm and wakes up at 6 is surely from excitement, and definitely not because of the significant jet-lag).

Finally, to answer the question on everyone’s mind: No, we haven’t seen a single kangaroo yet.

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The University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project unveils new solar electric vehicle Daedalus on Thursday July 18th.


The new car features a 16 kilowatt-hour battery that can be easily charged from the electric grid, or the solar array. Even at night, Daedalus can travel up to 480 miles without stopping.

  • Two passengers and four wheels
  • Dual custom-designed motors (with help from TruTech Specialty Motors) capable of 100 Nm
  • 16.2 killowatt hour lithium-ion battery
  • Estimated top speed of 90 mph (electronically limited to 80 mph)
  • 391 Sunpower C60 solar cells – 1300W
  • Carbon fiber chassis – cut by PaR Systems

daedalus-with-teamThe team will compete in the Cruiser class of the 2013 World Solar Challenge this October. A 3,000km race across Australia.



Image from World Solar Challenge


Rear view of Daedalus with the license plate visible.

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The University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project team will unveil its newest solar-hybrid car at a special event for the media, sponsors and supporters at 9 a.m. Thursday, July 18 at the University’s St. Paul Campus, Ruttan Hall, Room B36, 1994 Buford Avenue, St. Paul.

After a few brief remarks from student team leaders, those attending will be among the first to see the new car and view its inner workings, tour the Solar Vehicle Project team’s shop, and hear from members of the team about the upcoming competition.

This is the first public viewing of the car in preparation for the 2013 World Solar Challenge, a 3,000-kilometer (1,864-mile) race across the Australian Outback starting in Darwin and heading south to Adelaide. The race runs from Oct. 6-13, 2013.

The University of Minnesota’s new car, named Daedalus, is the first-ever two-seater car that balances practicality with efficiency. The U of M’s team will compete in a new Cruiser Class where practicality, not speed, is the goal. The team’s car will include a few comfort features of regular cars such as a stereo and actual car seats.

This year’s car is unique among its competitors in that the University of Minnesota is the only team in the race to use completely student-designed and built motors and motor controllers. The car’s two motors have a combined total of about 42 horsepower and can reach a top speed of about 90 miles per hour. During the race the team is required to follow the road’s speed limit, which is 130 kilometers per hour or about 81 miles per hour.

The University of Minnesota is among 10 teams from around the world competing in the Cruiser Class and more than 45 teams competing in all classes of the World Solar Challenge. The University of Minnesota solar car team has a history of success. The team won first place at the 2011 American Solar Challenge’s Formula Sun Grand Prix track race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and finished fifth overall in the 2012 American Solar Challenge.

More than 30 University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering students are part of the current team and 15 will be part of the race crew. Team members estimate that they’ve collectively spent more than 30,000 hours over the last 10 months planning and building the solar car.

In addition to significant support from the University’s College of Science and Engineering and several academic departments, materials for the U of M’s solar car were funded through cash and in-kind donations of parts and materials from more than 50 local and national companies. Major sponsors include 3M, Altium, ANSYS, Cirrus Design, Delta Airlines, Dyplast, General Mills, IAR, Infolytica, NVIDIA, PTC, Segger Microcontroller, Stratasys, Sunpower, and Trutech.

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Battery cells assembled into holder - 3D printed by Stratasys.

Battery cells assembled into module – 3D printed by Stratasys.

Our battery manufacturing process ramped up to full steam today with the welding of modules for one of the two battery packs for Daedalus. The two completed battery packs for WSC 2013 cruiser class will weigh 63 kilograms, more than three times that of our previous cars.

These new battery modules to hold the 18650-size lithium cells were 3D printed by Stratasys.


These 3D printed parts consistently maintained a snug fit on every cell in the module and enabled our team to rapidly go from CAD drawings to having high-quality parts ready for manufacturing.

Our custom-built battery welder.

Our custom-built battery welder.

These cells are all welded together to a single nickel plate, cut for us by Diamond Metal Products.

Nickel plate – cut by Diamond Metal Products


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A telemetry system is a vital part of a solar car – it’s not just something to monitor the car on the road, but if executed properly, can also be a valuable debugging tool. In fact, one of the first boards we made was the telemetry module, which allows us to see every single packet on our CAN bus. With clever software, our telemetry also does double duty as a wireless always-on CAN analyzer.

The biggest improvement we made this year was replacing our radios with Xbee Pro ultra-long-range radios, donated by Digi. These radios have up to a 15 mile range, yet can support 200kbps at short ranges. We’ve never had a wireless dropout so far, even with carbon fiber and steel elements in the way.

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We are working very hard on our new car, D1, which will compete in the World Solar Challenge in Australia this October.  This car has 1 year design cycle. It’s our first four wheeled, two seat car. It’s also our first car that emphasizes practicality rather than speed.

Our Aerodynamics team is working on the molds and will start shell layups next week.

EE team finished the first revision PCB of all the electrical subsystem. We are writing software to test the boards.

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