In just 10 days, the University of Michigan (U-M) Solar Car team will race in the American Solar Challenge (ASC) from Austin, Texas to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Although U-M is the defending champion of the race, they are entering the event with a relatively inexperienced team. This is the first test under real race conditions for most team members.
The race is more than 1,000 miles. It will be a heated competition (figuratively and literally). It will be a good test of the U-M's car, team and training. And it will better prepare them for an even longer race in the 2015 World Solar Challenge (WSC) in Australia. (We covered their 2013 attempt in Solar Car Racing Goes Blue).
U-M has scored a number of third place finishes in WSC, but they have yet to overcome their chief rivals, Nuon from the Netherlands and Tokai from Japan. Last year, U-M suffered a setback when their car crashed in Coober Pedy under 70 mph wind gusts. Despite the accident, the team was able to fix the vehicle and finish the race in ninth place.
Still, the result came as a disappointment for a team accustomed to international success—and motivated by the pressures of upholding their school’s tradition. Led by project manager Pavan Naik and engineering director Arnold Kadiu, the team is determined to redeem itself, starting with ASC.
Siemens PLM Software is an integral part of U-M's plan to overtake their competitors. The team has unified vehicle design in NX, and is also using Teamcenter, Fibersim and LMS solutions during the upcoming season.
Check out this video interview with the team.
The video is the first in a series that will follow U-M’s quest to make a comeback in the Australian Outback and win the WSC. Stay tuned as we share more here on the team and their progress in leveraging PLM software to improve their solar car.