In 1990, a group of undergraduate students at the University of Minnesota established the Solar Vehicle Project so students could experience engineering and management in a complete product development environment. Over twenty five years and twelve solar cars later, the University of Minnesota’s Solar Vehicle Project became the first team from the United States to compete in the Cruiser Class of the 2013 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia. Since then, they returned to this biennial event with their new EOS I solar vehicle in 2015 and were the only cruiser competitor to qualify for both the 2016 Formula Sun Grand Prix and the 2016 American Solar Challenge. The team will be returning to the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge with their new Eos II solar vehicle on October 8, 2017.
Looking to improve the practicality and efficiency of their cruiser vehicle, the University of Minnesota team of approximately seventy-five undergraduate students, has spent the last two years planning, designing, fundraising, and building the Eos II solar vehicle using Digi XBee modules to communicate and log data from the solar car and lead vehicle. In support of these innovative efforts, Digi has sponsored the solar team with four Digi XLR Pro radios to help the team members communicate and log data using a point-to-multipoint Ethernet bridge to create a transparent network connecting computers and networked sensors in all vehicles and the caravan. The team will also have the ability to access locally hosted resources on a dedicated server in the lead vehicle, something they have not been able to do in the past.
Yesterday, we had the honor of meeting the 2017 crew to hand deliver the Digi XLR Pro radios. The energetic and excited team gave us an inside look into their shop, showed us under the hood of the EOS II, and tested out Digi XBee modules while test driving the solar vehicle. Stay tuned for more updates coming soon and be sure to follow this brilliant, hardworking, and fun team on Twitter to cheer them on!