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Design & Race Competition Of A Solar Powered Vehicle

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.140.1 - 1.140.17



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Paper Authors

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Dr. Edward M. Lenoe

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Dr. Eddie Fowler

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

“ - ” 1 Session 1532 .— .. .

‘DESIGN & RACE COMPETITION OF A SOLAR POWERED VEHICLE Dr. Edward M. Lenoe, Dr. Eddie Fowler United States Military Academy/ Kansas State University


This paper describes the performance of the USMA “Onondaga”, a solar powered vehicle which completed the recent SUNRAYCE ’95 event wherein 38 cars raced 1300 miles from Indianapolis, IN to Golden, CO. In particular, a rather simple and rugged solar array configuration, using only three diodes, was employed. Total cost of our vehicle was $33,000, including spare parts. Furthermore the entire vehicle was constructed in-house, thereby qualifying us as the lowest cost entrant, designed, built and fielded by the smallest team! We also fielded the heaviest drivers. The authors goals were to qualify, to finish the race and to determine our vehicle capabilities, and in general to learn about solar powered vehicIes. In all these, much to our gratification, we succeeded, finishing 26th overall in a field of 38, and on the last day of the race, finishing 5th! Our most satisfying event was day four, when the Onongada truly rode with the sun, covering 122.5 miles with minimal battery pack consumption. The project was initiated in August 1994, with the first semester devoted to design and the second to fabrication. During this project we had to conceive, design, procure, fabricate, test and evaluate and finally compete! Most competitors devoted two years to the project. The Onondaga was built from mid March to mid April, then subjected to 380 miles of road tests in the rolling hills of the Hudson Highlands. Road testing revealed numerous design flaws, several of which could not be corrected in time for competition. Therefore we procured the necessary spare parts and tools and adopted a generally conservative race strategy. The paper reviews the educational experience and reports on the performance of the Onondaga. We present: a brief description of the team and its operation and an assessment of the design process with recommendations for improvement. Also presented is a discussion of “scrutineering” (static and dynamic safety tests), discussion of the qualifying race as well as the full Sunrayce. Data presented includes vehicle amp-hour consumption, road elevation profiles, and typical solar insolation for the race. The paper concludes with recommendations for an improved Sunraycer.


SUNRAYCE 95 was the third in a series of biennial intercollegiate competitions for solar powered cars, an educational event designed to challenge science, mathematics, engineering, business and other students throughout North America, and to foster scientific innovation and creativity. SUNRAYCE ’95 took place from 20-29 June 1995, after the qualifying events during 14-18 June, in Indianapolis. Initially there were 65 registered teams. However less than 50 solar cars from throughout North

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Lenoe, D. E. M., & Fowler, D. E. (1996, June), Design & Race Competition Of A Solar Powered Vehicle Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--5963

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