Borealis and the SVP team were welcomed by several hundred onlookers as the Unveiling event opened on April 25th. The event featured speeches by Dr. Patrick Starr (our faculty advisor), the Dean of the Institute of Technology, and a representative from Storagetek. After the 3 speakers finished congratulating the team on the completion of Borealis, the audience was invited to take a first-hand look at the vehicle and the team members dispersed themselves among the crowd to discuss the vehicle's design, production, & racing with the spectators.
Borealis is the University of Minnesota's 5th generation vehicle. Design of the vehicle began in the Fall of 1999. Since then, every system on the vehicle has been carefully scrutinized; nearly all of them have been redesigned. Almost every aspect of Borealis hosts new innovations and ideas that can push our vehicle's performance to new heights.
The most visible change between Borealis and our previous vehicles is the shape of the body. After refining the same basic shape over 3 generations, we saw little margin for improvement with the same design. Demanding higher performance implied a radical change in the body; the Aerodynamics team responded with Borealis' new shape.
Another area of major improvement for Borealis is the solar array. Particular attention was paid to this part of the vehicle, as it is critical in every solar car's success. After more than 2 years of research & testing, we have selected different solar cells, investigated new encapsulation techniques, and upgraded our performance specifications for the power trackers (the electronics hardware that regulates the solar panels). We are confident that our new array will help Borealis shine!
The elegant `clamshell' chassis & shell design that makes our previous 3 vehicles so distinct will not appear on Borealis. Instead, the chassis is integrated into the shell, making them 1 piece. This design is elegant in a different way, improving our aerodynamics and saving weight. Borealis, like Aurora II & Aurora3, is a 3-wheeled vehicle. Our previous vehicles' suspensions have superb handling and robustness. The mechanical team has been busy at work, insuring that this history will be maintained in Borealis.
The electrical system, like the rest of Borealis, has seen a vast number of radical improvements. The battery selection maximizes efficiency and minimizes weight costs. Our choice of motor & controller reflects our commitment to make no compromise in vehicle performance. The telemetry, cruise control circuitry, and driver display systems have all been rebuilt from the ground up. These systems provide real-time information about vehicle status - critical knowledge for racing Borealis at peak performance.
The team's passion for racing never wanes, even in the off-season. Last May, the Borealis team raced Aurora^3 in Formula Sun 2000 in order to expose new team members to solar car racing.