The University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project was founded by a group of undergraduate students from the U of M Institute of Technology in 1990. The team finished their first car, Aurora I, in under three years to compete in the 1993 GM Sunrayce. The project has remained true to its original foundation as a student administered, designed, and built project that teaches members about engineering and management in a complete product development environment. Since Aurora I, the team has built eleven additional cars, each of which has expanded and improved on the previous designs.
Eos, the team’s most recent vehicle, exemplifies the largest change of direction that the team and solar racing has taken in recent years. The team is the first American team to compete in the Cruiser Class at the World Solar Challenge. In addition to speed, this class focuses on practicality and person-miles (the car has two seats). This poses several new design criteria to give the team room to innovate in new areas.
The 2015 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge was 3000 kilometers across the continent of Australia – from Darwin in the north to Adelaide in the south – and the team finished fifth in the class. Eos will be racing again at the 2016 American Solar Challenge. The team will be promoting practical solar cars in this race.