And they're off! Day one at the solar races

El Reg pursues early leaders


WSC Yesterday, 37 solar cars set off from State Square in Darwin, NT for the start of the 3,000km 2011 World Solar Challenge across the Australian continent. El Reg's Special Projects Bureau was there to wave them off...

wsc start montage

...and then join the race down the Stuart Highway.

Nuon solarcar on the road

The first compulsory checkpoint was at Katherine, a busy little town 300km south of Darwin.

Race favourites Tokai University of Japan, The University of Michigan from, er, Michigan and Nuon from the Netherlands were already there. The atmosphere was a little frantic.

Tokai solar car first pitstop

Nuon first checkpoint

Michigan pitstop day one

We heard a race organiser ticking off a Nuon rep, for driving in a convoy, making it difficult for Michigan to overtake. We understood what she meant later in the day when it was our turn to overtake a Calgary convoy of five vehicles, the solar car, its two support vhicles, and two trucks filled with people and stuff.

Because they were driving so close together, it was like overtaking two road trains, as we overtook them. Meanwhile... back at Katherine, we decided to wait for our chums from Durham Uni, who qualified 24th in Saturday's speed trials. We waited and waited - and saw another 11 solarcars come and go with no sign of the plucky Brits.

Unfortunately, we had no internet connection - I'll save that rant for later - and so could not check where they were. And the team were not answering their satellite phone.

So we set off once again down the Stuart Highway, driving another 370km to the next checkpoint, at Dunbarra (pop.5), which is in fact a roadhouse with a nice collection of big snakes living in tanks in the dining area, lovely food and pehaps the most expensive diesel in Australia.

Five teams have made their pitch here for the night, some 633km down the road from Darwin.

solar car basking in the evening sunshine

Solar car

Day 2 kicks off at 8am for the teams, but we set off early to catch up with the leaders, who camped out 70km ahead of us. At the end of Day One just four minutes separated the lead trio. ®

Update Monday, 1.03pm NT time

We saw in the race leaders to the first checkpoint of the day, at Tennant Springs, a hard-bitten mining town, 1000km from Darwin. Tokai had stretched its lead to ten minutes, with Nuon and Michigan separated by a couple of minutes. We learned that Durham, along with a fairly large pack, had made it to Katherine by the end of the first day. We'll attempt to contact them later today by satellite phone or, probably more effectively out here, carrier pigeon.

Similar topics

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • AMD claims its GPUs beat Nvidia on performance per dollar
    * Terms, conditions, hardware specs and software may vary – a lot

    As a slowdown in PC sales brings down prices for graphics cards, AMD is hoping to win over the market's remaining buyers with a bold, new claim that its latest Radeon cards provide better performance for the dollar than Nvidia's most recent GeForce cards.

    In an image tweeted Monday by AMD's top gaming executive, the chip designer claims its lineup of Radeon RX 6000 cards provide better performance per dollar than competing ones from Nvidia, with all but two of the ten cards listed offering advantages in the double-digit percentages. AMD also claims to provide better performance for the power required by each card in all but two of the cards.

    Continue reading
  • Google opens the pod doors on Bay View campus
    A futuristic design won't make people want to come back – just ask Apple

    After nearly a decade of planning and five years of construction, Google is cutting the ribbon on its Bay View campus, the first that Google itself designed.

    The Bay View campus in Mountain View – slated to open this week – consists of two office buildings (one of which, Charleston East, is still under construction), 20 acres of open space, a 1,000-person event center and 240 short-term accommodations for Google employees. The search giant said the buildings at Bay View total 1.1 million square feet. For reference, that's less than half the size of Apple's spaceship. 

    The roofs on the two main buildings, which look like pavilions roofed in sails, were designed that way for a purpose: They're a network of 90,000 scale-like solar panels nicknamed "dragonscales" for their layout and shimmer. By scaling the tiles, Google said the design minimises damage from wind, rain and snow, and the sloped pavilion-like roof improves solar capture by adding additional curves in the roof. 

    Continue reading
  • Pentester pops open Tesla Model 3 using low-cost Bluetooth module
    Anything that uses proximity-based BLE is vulnerable, claim researchers

    Tesla Model 3 and Y owners, beware: the passive entry feature on your vehicle could potentially be fooled by a new form of relay attack.

    Discovered and tested by researchers at NCC Group, the attack allows anyone with a tool similar to NCC's to relay the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) signal from a smartphone that has been paired with a Tesla back to the vehicle. Far from simply unlocking the door, the hack lets the attacker start the car and drive away too.

    In its testing, NCC Group said it was able to perform a relay attack that allowed researchers to open a Tesla Model 3 from a home in which the vehicle's paired device was located (on the other side of the house), approximately 25 meters away.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022