MDH Solar Team charging up for the start

Oct 13, 2017 | Education Student Global

For a good three weeks the MDH Solar Team has been in Australia to prepare for the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, which started on Sunday 8 October. After several years’ work constructing a solar car, which is to take them across Australia, the time has now come for the competition.

 

- It’s difficult to understand that it’s finally time for the competition, but we feel ready! We have worked hard and to see the car running here in Australia makes all our hard struggles worthwhile, says Evelina Edström, who is the PR Officer for the team.

The race, arranged every other year, is about building a solar car that can drive as fast as possible along the 3 000km-long competition route. The team from MDH, who is there in Australia, consists of 17 Engineering students with different specialisations, and two teachers. For the last few weeks the team has been in Hidden Valley, where they have had access to a test track, among other things.

- We’ve explored the area and the competitors, but the greatest focus has been on optimising the car to Australian conditions. We have test-driven the car on the track several times and also carried out manoeuvrability tests to check the car’s performance and turning circle, says Fredrik Beiertz, who is in charge of the chassis and crashworthiness of the car.   

Despite the fact that the tests have gone well, the team has had problems with the battery. This is because it has been delayed along the way. While waiting for the battery, which is on its way from Hong Kong, the team has put together a provisional battery pack of motorbike batteries, which they have used to be able to test the car.

- We’ve been worried for the last few days, since the delivery date for the battery has been postponed. Just now we’re collaborating with Cambridge University, who unfortunately is out of the race on account of an accident. The Cambridge team is helping us and we can use their battery if ours doesn't arrive in time. The atmosphere is quite incredibly good and we’re happy that they’re helping us, says Evelina Edström. 

During the competition four drivers will be taking turns to drive the car, which will also be accompanied by the team’s motorhome and pilot car. One of the toughest challenges is just to drive all the vehicles the 3 000 kilometres.

- Everything’s got to work with the motorhome, the solar car and the pilot car – everything from keeping our spirits up during the trip to drinking enough water in the desert. If we think about the challenges for the car then dust is a problem that I think may arise, and that the heat may have a negative effect on the electronics, says Wicktor Löw, who is in charge of the electronics and battery.

Apart from MDH Solar Team, a further 41 teams from universities and university colleges all over the world are taking part. As regards MDH, this is the first time the University has entered a team, but the majority of the other teams have competed several times and come from well-known universities such as Stanford, Tokai and Delft Universities.

- I believe the other teams are very good considering that they have taken part several times and have been able to learn from previous competitions. For us it's the first time, but I believe that we can keep a stable speed, which ought to give us a place in the middle, which we would be extremely satisfied with. Getting over the finishing line the first time we compete is a very good result, says Johanna Colling, Project Manager for marketing.