back to article Cambridge withdraws from World Solar Challenge

Cambridge University Eco Racing (CUER), Britain's sole entrant in the trans-continental World Solar Challenge starting tomorrow in Australia, has withdrawn its “Resolution” vehicle from the race. CUER entered the race with an innovative design featuring tilting solar panels, the better to catch the maximum amount of solar …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hardly surprising, we seem to have a really bad reputation for making cars unless it's F1.

    Even our Mars lander failed.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge


      Citation Please.....

      Then go look at the figures for our Car Exports. 70%+ of what we make is exported.

      Then go talk to Honda, Nissan, Toyota and BMW about how we export pretty well engineered and made cars

      Then go talk to Ford about hoe we make most of the engines used by Ford in Europe

      Then go talk to Rolls Royce and Bentley




      We do make lots of 'stuff'. Perhaps you might like to open your eyes.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        @Steve Davies 3

        Wait...are you talking about Jags? Because here in Edmonton Jaguars are well known (infamous) for being vehicles you have to keep a complete set of tools and diagnostic equipment in the trunk. The damned things are always breaking down, the parts are hideously expensive and the "computer" systems on board were crafted from the raw, elemental madness at the centre of the universe.

        "Well made cars?"


    2. Anonymous Coward

      Bad reputation for making cars

      we seem to have a really bad reputation for making cars unless it's F1.

      If you ignore the jingoism from the three twats then the rest of this says otherwise.

    3. Roger Stenning

      Land Rover.

      We may not own the company any more, but it's one of the most successful vehicle designs EVER. And there are STILL series I Landies driving on - and off - the roads of the globe, to this day.

      Blow that one out yer bunny slippers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Land Rover. We may not own the company any more

        Morgan is about the only UK car manufacturer still alive, all the others are foreign owned

        Hence we can blame the faulty Jags on the Indians who own and run it, not on the UK ex unionised car workers who killed the industry by producing Austin Allegro's and Morris Ital's

        1. Alister

          Re: Land Rover. We may not own the company any more

          @AC 11:46

          Hence we can blame the faulty Jags on the Indians who own and run it, not on the UK ex unionised car workers who killed the industry by producing Austin Allegro's and Morris Ital's

          Are you a greengrocer? Only you seem to have a problem with apostrophes...

  2. Richard Jones 1

    It Was The Design

    We have a now thriving car making industry after investment largely by others so the somewhat off colour snipe was not entirely justified. In any case this appears to have been a design issue rather than a 'making issue'. I does suggest that wind tunnels are not the be all and end all and that physical testing is just as, if not more important.

    Progress is made by pushing boundaries, In this case a boundary appears to have been pushed in a possibly wrong direction. To me the machine had proportions that looked out of balance, perhaps to high for the width, perhaps an incompatible suspension geometry, perhaps several issues. I do not know, but any fool can speculate.

    One certainty is that it needed more development and validation work before it was shipped. It is this aspect that has been the killer in many other projects, so test, test and test again. Then let someone who knows nothing about the product test it a bit more - they will probably find more issues than you knew could possibly exist. (I liked using staff from seriously non technical departments, they could and did break everything until it was strengthened to withstand their best efforts.)

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: It Was The Design

      "One certainty is that it needed more development and validation work before it was shipped. "

      One can also say that about Beagle (and not to use heavily patched prototyping airbags full of earth atmosphere water vapour as the actual flight devices)

    2. Lars Silver badge

      Re: It Was The Design

      Just surprisingly too narrow. Such a good try and I wish the whole teem all the best, but that one error was disturbingly obvious.

  3. Stuart Moore

    If you don't risk failure, you can never succeed

    Fair play to them - they tried, and ultimately they can't risk people's lives if they have a good reason to be worried.

    They tried something innovative, and most of it worked well. There's a lot of good that's come out of it even if the headline isn't what they wanted.

    Well done to the team.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In summary..

    They showed all the other teams some really good ideas, didn't enter, and gave all the other teams two years to take those ideas and use them on their own vehicles.

    Perhaps a stability test in private might not have gone amiss?

    1. Graham Marsden
      Thumb Down

      @AC - Re: In summary..

      If you're so clever, why aren't you out there?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @AC - In summary..

        How do you know that I'm not?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @AC - In summary..

        Too busy working on my car that's fuelled by trees from what's left of the Amazon rain forest, and my boat that's fuelled by whale blubber.

      3. Nuke

        @Graham Marsden - Re: @AC - In summary..

        Wrote :- "If you're so clever, why aren't you out there?"

        Why the sarcasm? The first thing that sprang to my own mind when I read TFA is how the hell did they get to within a day of the start before discovering there are fundamental stability problems with the design?

        As for being "out there" if "you're so clever", there are plenty of other "clever" things to be done other than attending this event. In my case, I am busy helping to keep power stations running, but if I had been a few years younger I might well have been involved in this project.

        However, as an engineer of some experience by now, I would comment that insufficient attention to dynamics, as opposed to the statics and quasi-statics, is the downfall of many engineering designs.

        1. Graham Marsden
          Thumb Down

          @Nuke - Re: @Graham Marsden - @AC - In summary..

          "Why the sarcasm?"

          Why the necessity for the original AC to post a snarky "Weren't *they* stupid" post? An opinion, it seems, that you appear to share without knowing much more than the AC did. As it says in the article testing “revealed new dynamic instabilities, which we have not been able to fix in the time we have left before the race.” but it's easy to make comments on such things with 20/20 hindsight.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @AC - In summary..

        The electric car gets built once I've figured out how to safely remove the MOX fuel from the damaged pools at Fukushima.

        Priorities, man, priorities.

  5. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Seems they made a well considered decision to me. Sometimes you just back off for now then come back stronger. Hopefully they will do this next year.

  6. westlake

    Back to the old drawing board.

    With all due respect, it's a 3,000 km run.

    The car needs to be stable. The test track can only give you a single snapshot of the conditions you might experience on the road.

    I can't say I like the idea of using tilting solar panels on an ultra light vehicle that may not in its basic configuration be particularly stable or easy to control

  7. sad_loser

    One of the sponsors of the car was a well known motor testing ground.

    The car was completed at the beginning of summer with the aim of putting > 2000k of testing, so you can't say they didn't think of this.

    This is a very sad end to an inspiring skunkworks project, but let's hope it rides again

  8. John Deeb

    Dear sad faces, you can support Stella from Eindhoven:

    It's competing in the Cruiser class (4 wheels, 2 drivers) as favourite but was already beating all vehicles but one from the Challenger class in the qualification round. But perhaps everyone was holding back :)

    1. Anonymous Coward

      The last time I supported Stella from Eindhoven, I got a rash.....

      We are talking about the same Stella, right??

  9. Black Rat

    Trial by fire

    Sure things are going to go wrong but that's the whole purpose of the race, to expose weaknesses in the design or technology. Personally I wish the CUER team was out scrounging tubes of epoxy and a steering damper rather than figuring out when the next bus home is.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Hey, Cambridge tried, and it didn't work out.....

    They made an effort to combine a very narrow aerodynamic shape with tilting solar panels and the result wasn't stable and the car pranged. You just have to read or watch "The Right Stuff" or "Unsafe at Any Speed" to realize that a lot more money, testing and engineering time has gone into machines whose safety characteristics resulted in a lot worse....

    So, my condolences and congratulations to the Cambridge team. My one suggestion is that they develop the car somewhere that has more sunshine :)

  11. ecofeco Silver badge

    Ah come on!

    That'll buff out!

    Mine with the polishing rags. ------>

    1. Neill Mitchell

      Re: Ah come on!

      They should seek sponsorship from T-Cut.

  12. sandman

    Real-world time

    Ah, I see that some of us haven't done much engineering or software development. You can test all you want, try and replicate every real-world situation you can think of, get sort of smug and launch your product and then, guess what, hubris is followed by nemesis.

    Then you go back and fix the problems: change the antenna in a mobile phone; replace a start button; recall 2 million cars to fix a problem; put helium in airships, not hydrogen; don't build reactors in tsunami-ridden earthquake zones; whatever.

    The Cambridge people tried, it didn't work as envisaged and they've learnt what doesn't work, a normal real-world development stage, not a disaster.

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: Real-world time

      Ah, but to be honest, one look at this thing, and the first (well, second, after - cool idea with the tilting panels) thought you have is 'that'll fall over the first time they hit a bump on a corner". So it's less a matter of testing, and more of finding someone who know a little about car dynamics (and Formula Student would probably help there).

      It is odd that they only found the problem at the event itself though. I guess all their testing was on very flat tracks, which is understandable since they cannot actually test run it legally on a road in the UK.

  13. John Sturdy

    Cugnot's fardier à vapeur had a similar problem! But that was just a road-bump, and progress has continued since then.

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