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In photos: NUsolar retires current car at annual race in Texas

Solar Car 6 nets 12 laps at collegiate solar car competition

EVANSTON – The Northwestern University Solar Car Team (NUsolar) raced its sixth-generation solar car for the final time earlier this month at the 2017 Formula Sun Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, completing a net 12 laps over three days of racing.

NUsolar’s Solar Car 6 (SC6) performed better each day, completing four laps on day one, six on day two and 18 on day three, with 16 penalty laps. The event took place July 3 to 8 at Circuit of The Americas, a winding 3.4-mile road course that hosts the Formula One Grand Prix, a race from the world’s fastest professional racing league.

The annual competition, which pits teams of college students against each other, tests the performance limits of vehicles in handling curves, braking and acceleration. Teams from 18 schools -- including four from Canada and one from Puerto Rico -- were subject to a thorough “scrutineering” process, in which race organizers performed a full evaluation of each team’s car and drivers the first three days in Austin. Violations of mechanical, technological and operational standards resulted in penalty laps.  

University of California at Berkeley took home the top prize with a whopping 228 laps. Three schools did not register a net lap and one did not make it to the track. Full results are available on the race’s website.

SC6, a fully functional electric vehicle with three wheels that can be legally driven on any road, has been in use since 2010. The seventh-generation car (SC7) is under construction and will be NUsolar’s first vehicle with four wheels and two independent electric motors.

Sponsored by the non-profit Innovators Educational Foundation, The Formula Sun Grand Prix is one of two annual collegiate solar car competitions that have taken place since 1990.

All photos are courtesy NUsolar’s Facebook page