Solar Sunday: Xof1 Solar Car Project

Back in 2009, I had the privilege of joining the solar car project adventure! With the team, I traveled from Florida to north of the Arctic Circle.  Recently I was asked to write a chapter for the upcoming book about the project. A bit of nostalgia and another wonderful privilege- to share my experiences in a published format.

My journey with the team starts here:

The chapter is due on or before Dec. 20. Looks like I will be busy reliving the dream and compiling the best of. Every Sunday, I will dedicate the bulk of the day to the solar car book.
Panasonic HIT(R) #Solar Cells and High-Capacity Batteries to Support Tokai University's Solar Car Team - MarketWatch

OSAKA, Japan, Aug 24, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) – Panasonic Corporation PC -0.12% (tokyo:6752)(“Panasonic”) today announced its sponsorship of Tokai University’s solar car team, the defending champion for the 2011 World Solar Challenge (WSC) in Australia, one of the largest solar-powered car races in the world. Under the sponsorship agreement, Panasonic will supply the Japanese university team with its HIT®*1 solar cells boasting the world’s highest level*2 of energy conversion rate, as well as high-capacity lithium-ion batteries.

The solar car race, first held in 1987, sees many teams from universities, corporations and other groups around the world competing to race 3,021 km through central Australia from Darwin in the north to Adelaide in the south. The Tokai University team, who won the last race held in 2009 with its solar car using Panasonic lithium-ion battery cells to store its solar generated power, will look for its second straight win at 2011 WSC, which will be held from October 16 to 23.

Also check out: Making Hybrid Pickups Work for America
and SweetWater Brewing Company Goes Solar!

Progress Report!

Our dear assistant team manager Alexcandre Marceau-Gozsy took the time to write us a progress report. Here’s a quick rundown of the important points:


  • Some parts of the vehicle are being redesigned to conform to regulations or to be optimized.
  • Fortunately we were able to delegate some tasks as third year personal projects such as the front suspension (Laurence Lebel), analysis of aerodynamics stability1 (Simon Bourgeult-Coté) and the roll cage (William Perey).
  • The molds have been put together but some are still being painted and sanded. Teams have been established to make sure the workshop is manned at least three days a week,


  • Microcontroller programming has begun. Simon Dufour is almost done with the steering wheel’s controller.
  • Battery pack redesign in progress.
  • Auxialiary controller has been delegated as a third year personal project.

A lot of this has to be done by october 15th so we can submit our report to the judges!

1 I hope I translated this right…

Quantum, the Michigan Solar Car Team’s 11th generation solar car, races through the desert of the United Arab Emirates during the final day of the Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge.

Students and alumni of the University of Michigan Solar Car Team participated in the Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge in January 2015. 

Photo: Evan Dougherty, Michigan Engineering, Communications & Marketing

Stretching and charging the solar car on the side of the Trans Canada Highway, 2009.

My chapter for the book is to be submitted to the publisher in two days. The day pictured was one of the best. I met a man named Crazy, ran parallel with a doe barefoot on a dirt road under a rainbow, laid on the vibrating RR tracks till just before the train came, saw shooting stars shoot across the sky, and shared stories with firemen over a four alarm lunch.

Remember this? It’s been a few weeks, and me and my fellow nerds have been busy. Witness a solar-powered car that no longer makes strange noises, passes the required steering and brake tests, and easily sustains speeds in excess of 40mph!