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The Quantum, which is a street legal solar car with a carbon fibre chassis and body, will follow mostly two-lane roads at an expected average of 40-50 mph on a 1,000 mile route that stops in St. Joseph, Ludington, Traverse City, Mackinaw City and Tawas City.
In the past, Michigan solar cars have broken 100 mph, but the Quantum isn’t tested for speed until after October’s World Solar Challenge.
“”Mock race is a major milestone for us,”” said Rachel Kramer, Project Manager and Senior Neuroscience Student. “”We’ll be on the open roads navigating and dealing with other traffic while making real-time race strategy decisions.””
Beyond practice, the trip will give the team a chance to show Quantum off across the state that many of its biggest fans and supporters call home. The team has more than 300 sponsors including Pure Michigan, which will provide giveaways that available along the route, and several Michigan businesses.
“”Quantum is a breakthrough car for the U-M team and we couldn’t have built it without our sponsors,”” said Chris Hilger, Business Manager and Junior Chemical Engineering Student. “”This year we worked with the automotive base around us in unprecedented ways. No team has collaborated with industry on the level that we have.””
This year, the students built Quantum’s carbon fibre chassis and body right at Roush’s office, getting advice from professional engineers as they worked. “”With their help, we took a process that used to take a month and finished it in a week, and we ended up with a better product,”” Hilger said.
The team worked with the Detroit office of British engineering firm Ricardo to measure the true forces the car experiences on the road. With this new knowledge, the students were able to design a streamlined car that’s 200 pounds lighter than its predecessor.
The University is the reigning champion of the North American Solar Challenge, a race it has won three times in a row. Michigan has finished third in the World Solar Challenge four times. The 2011 World Solar Challenge begins on October the 16th in Darwin, Australia.
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