University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project AURORA-I

Date: October 19, 1992
To: Sunrayce 93, Dr. Gordon Beavers, Dr. Richard Goldstein, Dr. Anne Hopkins, Mr. John Larson, Dr. Virgil Marple, Dr. Pat Starr
From: Scott Grabow
cc: SVP Executive Committee
RE: 10/19/92 Status Update

Overall Project:

During the summer, leaders for the project focussed on attaining University support from the various branches. First, was the official presentation to IT, the Institute of Technology, then to one of the Vice-Presidents of Academic Affairs. Both were very responsive, and have pledged full support from their offices to the project.

From the IT office, they have helped us secure additional space for portions of the project, secured faculty support, and are providing contacts with past alumni to secure the remaining balance on the project. From all initial indications alumni are interested in the project, and willing to go the extra mile.

While the design groups started a design review process to ensure that things are meeting the deadlines, plus provide meetings where interested sponsors can see the status of the vehicle and lend their experienced hand to optimize the overall design.


The Aero/Shell group has built a miniature version of the underbody, which is more complex than the real car. This was done so we can see the problems, and trouble shoot those before the final layup is started in the next few weeks.

Wind tunnel work is progressing, as a matter of fact it has verified much of our initial design goals. The final shape was deemed acceptable by the group, and unique. We do have several minor issues to deal with such as tripping the boundary layer early, and what method is the best.

The group is in the process of finishing the mechanical design of the panels so the they can be started in the next month or so.


We have selected most of our electrical components such as motor/controller, and peak power trackers. The final evaluation of the batteries are taking slightly more time, but will make the final deadline for selection, while the cells are undergoing final encapsulation evaluation.

The evaluation of the solar array layout will be completed since we have received the newest batch of test cells for the car. We are comparing the array layout, and making minor changes as needed.

Ergonomics/Race Strategy:

The Ergonomics team has nearly finished the driver layout issues, and the roll cage design is being implemented into the actual underbody of the car.

The computer program group is started to perform the final coding, while the first priority is to get the solar portion verified, made into a module. Then the race strategy logic, and experimentation results will be added to the computer model.


Recent contacts with local companies have helped to optimize our design, and have given us favorable contacts to getting special tires manufactured as an option.

The prototype frame is undergoing modification from the initial design, and waiting for final evaluation testing. This may be done during the winter, to ensure the handling is as good as it can be.