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Speed Bump: Formula Hybrid Competition Student Engineers Tripped Up by Complexity [Video & Slide Show]

At this year's fifth-annual Dartmouth Formula Hybrid showdown, many teams struggled to translate ambitious gas-electric designs into to reliable racing vehicles

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SWEDES ENDURE:

The team from Sweden's Lund University ran the endurance test's first 20 laps on fuel and the final 20 laps on electric power. "This was a nice demonstration that both systems work," Collier says.....[ More ]

TIGHT ON TIME:

The Dartmouth team's car made it through inspection on the final day of the competition just as the endurance test was winding down. Dartmouth was able to complete only 21 of 40 laps before time expired.....[ More ]

WHO NEEDS A BATTERY?:

The Dartmouth car uses capacitors rather than a battery to store energy. This makes the car lighter, but there is a trade-off: the maximum charge lasts only about 15 seconds. The idea is to use capacitors to store energy every time the driver applied the car's regenerative braking system as it rounded the track's curves and then tap that stored energy to accelerate out of the curve, Collier says.....[ More ]

AUTO-CROSSED UP:

Day 2 featured the autocross event, which tested the cars' maneuvering and handling. Only a handful of teams participated because the others had not made it through electrical safety inspections and braking tests.....[ More ]

INSPECTION ISSUES:

During inspection, judges check to ensure that electrical components are shielded, insulated, waterproofed and controllable. Pictured here is Brigham Young University's racer.....[ More ]

COMPETITIVE, BUT NOT COMPATIBLE:

"I think a lot of the cars were really complex," Dartmouth College engineering innovation professor John Collier says. "That's the problem that you get into with hybrid [technology] that all of the car companies have finally sorted out.....[ More ]

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