Back on the Road

NUSolar is back on the road (almost)!

After a long and cold winter quarter, the sunshine is greatly appreciated by both SC6 and the rest of the team. Over the past four weeks we have had the car out and about under its own power several times. Work on the array stand and canopy are still not finished, but we have installed a new touch-screen control for the driver as well as new, long-lasting batteries for the car’s auxiliary systems.

lead-acid batteries in SC6
Heavy lead-acid batteries served as replacements for our old Lithium-ion cells during testing, but will not be permanent.

The car’s software is continually being updated by the telemetry team. We recently installed a new steering wheel-mounted touch-screen to host the driver controls. In addition to horn and drive/reverse switches, this system will also give drivers live feedback of battery levels and other vital signs of the car. As always, the process of incorporating this new system is fraught with bugs, but we’ve been able to sort them out quickly and get things running.

Computer bugs

In mid-April, we took the bottom half of the car out for a test-drive around Northwestern’s campus. Starting from Ford we headed down via sidewalk to Norris, where we topped up the tire pressure. The car performed very well accelerating both the inclines and planes. We also got plenty of interested looks from passerby’s.

Before we can take the car out on the road, we still need to get a license plate. Nevertheless, we’re really excited about the way things are shaping up, and we look forward to a great summer.

Team members standing around SC6
Preparing to test the car

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