U students participate in solar-car competition

Josh Linehan

University students began a 1,880-mile solar-powered journey early Sunday morning at the World Solar Challenge.
Aurora 4, the latest in a series of University-engineered solar cars, left Darwin, Australia, at 8 a.m. Sunday. The cars will race across the Australian outback to Adelaide.
The 42 racing teams will attempt to cover as much ground as possible each day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eleven countries sent teams, including Japan, France, Germany, England, Canada and Singapore.
The teams will camp wherever they stop at the 5 p.m. deadline.
The Aurora 4 started in the sixth position with a qualifying speed of 59 mph. This is the first time a University car has qualified for the international event.
Minnesota will compete in the “Cut Out Class” with other universities such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Missouri-Rolla and the University of Waterloo in Canada. This class requires teams to build their vehicles with limited budgets and technology.
The Aurora 4 finished fourth in this year’s Sunrayce across the United States.
Team members said they were optimistic about their chances down under.
“If it’s sunny, we should really make good time,” said team member Kevin Grotheim.
The team also wanted to thank their University and corporate sponsors and supporters back home.
“The team is honored just to be a part of this race,” said racing crew chief and recent mechanical engineering graduate Steve Meyer. “It is going to be interesting to see just how many of them we can knock off. I, for one, am excited to show what a few Minnesotans can do.”

Josh Linehan covers science and technology and welcomes comments at [email protected] He can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3212.