Join 3,363 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


UFO or Solar Car?
September 10, 2008 10:09 AM   Subscribe

Marcelo da Luz has been attracting a lot of attention with his snazzy solar car. He's hoping to set a new world record by driving the car from Buffalo, NY, to Inuvik, Northwest Territories.
posted by mrgrimm (19 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
What if it rains?
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 10:18 AM on September 10, 2008


What if it rains?

Yeah and what about in the garage? You can't ever back a solar car out of your garage! Because there's no sun! In the garage! YOU SEE WHAT I'M GETTING AT?
posted by DU at 10:21 AM on September 10, 2008


Distance doesn't seem to be much of an issue for solar. If there was a time constraint or weight requirement, this would be more compelling. So other than the "Gee whiz, it's solar" factor and proving he can do it with out the car breaking down, it's not proving much.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:28 AM on September 10, 2008


(oh, heh... at first i was all like, wtf is the 'ufos' tag about, then i clicked on the solar car link... now i see.)
posted by saulgoodman at 10:32 AM on September 10, 2008


How is this particular solar car any different from the dozens of solar cars built by engineering undergrads around the world? Don't they have a race for these things every summer? I mean, cool that he's going for a new record, but is there anything else special about this car?
posted by GuyZero at 10:39 AM on September 10, 2008


Distance doesn't seem to be much of an issue for solar.

Hmmm. Not so much. If it was in a desert, or Australia or somewhere and weather was very constant, then I'd agree. However, the distance increases the time that the car needs to be operational for and potentially proves it in a much more realistic setting than, say, a speed race through Arizona. It's more about demonstrating the functional viability of Solar, rather than the viability of Solar as propulsion, I think. The extra time will create extra challenges through changeable weather patterns.
posted by Brockles at 10:43 AM on September 10, 2008


He might want to put a winch on that sucker, because Inuvik means mud. Lots of it. Caked everywhere. In everything. Stuck to your pants. In your water bottles. Huge glops on your socks. You can't escape it. Inuvik appears to have two kinds of summer weather: muddy & dust that hasn't yet become mud.
posted by netbros at 10:44 AM on September 10, 2008


For reference, da Luz is from Toronto. Here are three university solar car teams from right around that area:

Queen's Solar Car (their main site is down)
Waterloo's Midnight Sun
U of T's Blue Sky Solar car

I'm kinda stumped that he seems to present his project as being unique - he never makes any mention of any other solar car research teams where there are 3 within spitting distance of where he lives.
posted by GuyZero at 10:53 AM on September 10, 2008


Whoa there Einstein, can't you dumb down this diagram a little? I mean, WTF is that spinny yellow thing? We're not all solor genius scienteers like you.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:09 AM on September 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


Newsflash: "the primary goal of the expedition is to increase public awareness of the use of clean and sustainable energy"
posted by stbalbach at 11:10 AM on September 10, 2008


Yeah, Brokles I see that but the bottom line is this car isn't really practical for personal transport anywhere. If this thing gets hit by a semi or even a good size sedan, he's toast. If the weather is really bad he's not going anywhere. I'd much more impressed if he just drove it to work every day for a year.
I'm all for alternative fuel vehicles but they have to work in a realistic setting (and they really need to start doing it soon). If this, in any way, paves the way for better solar cells, then bravo for him, but as presented it seems more like a stunt
posted by doctor_negative at 11:13 AM on September 10, 2008


If this thing gets hit by a semi or even a good size sedan, he's toast.

You could say the same thing about a bicycle, and that works pretty well.

Of course it's a stunt. But it looks cool.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:17 AM on September 10, 2008


I'd much more impressed if he just drove it to work every day for a year.

Way to miss the point. This experiment is part of the progression toward that. Using gimmicks and publicity may be one of the only ways he can get approval to use it on the road as an experimental vehicle.

they really need to start doing it soon

Yes. But it will never be instantaneous. And the industry is not 100% committed to radical change. This project is not about the next stage of hybrid/alternative vehicles, it is about proof of concept for later iterations (potentially).


Something about your user name is trying to leap out at me...
posted by Brockles at 11:22 AM on September 10, 2008


You all are aware that most solar-powered anything isn't just comprised of solar cells plugged into the motor, but there are also batteries used to store power for when there's no sunlight, right?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:29 AM on September 10, 2008


From their wish list:
Fuel for support vehicles
posted by goethean at 11:46 AM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


wishlist link
posted by goethean at 11:46 AM on September 10, 2008


"da Luz" invents a solar powered car.

Yeah, that was pretty much a given.

His next door neighbor Pietro da Carbón is still struggling with his coal powered alternative. And Augosto de Fotosíntesis is getting nowhere.
posted by Dumsnill at 12:07 PM on September 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


But then his other neighbor Rudolf Diesel is doing just fine ...
posted by kcds at 12:23 PM on September 10, 2008


I hate to be the one who gets all conspiracy theorist here, but this is obviously isn't about setting world records; this is about embracing "extraterrestrial energy" and clearly alien technologies.

So UFO or Solar Car?

UFO. Totally.
posted by quin at 12:30 PM on September 10, 2008


« Older Needs. More. Cowbell....  |  Remember that disheartening ma... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments