Falcons solar car hits an obstacle | News

ROSAMOND – Palmdale High School’s Solar Falcon Race’s first day at Willow Springs International Raceway was cut short on Saturday morning, after the shock support on a Helios Falcon solar car was cut off while performing a test at the Walt James Stadium track.

Team members Lauren Keel, Beatriz Patino, Abigail Lindsay, Martin Garcia and Victorogo Amaral were on the track with advisor Robin Rodriguez and mentor Scott Schiff, who helps with the team’s community relations.

Kiel, a senior, was driving around the 3/8-mile dirt oval track. The break occurred when the car entered through a plunge into the track. The students added a fifth panel to the solar array used in the 2019 version of the car. This increased the vehicle’s solar power by 25%. The fifth plate added more weight for a total of about 175 pounds, which proved to be too much for support. The support of the array that is attached to the shock absorbers is bent and cracked, displacing the drive chain.

The car also has a new, reconstructed rear panel from Helios Falcon 2019. Students cannot continue to test the car. The good news is that the Helios Falcon can be fixed.

“It’s better if it happens here in the test than it is in Texas,” said Amaral, who is part of the auto team.

“We’ll wait until Monday to fix it,” Kiel said.

Part of the reason to test the car at Willow Springs is to find potential problems like the shock support before the team is in Texas.

“At least with this it’s a little break where it’s not difficult,” Kiel said. “It would be a pain to manufacture, but it wouldn’t be as painful as it is here in Texas.”

Patino, a senior executive with Team Solar Falcon, said the break was disappointing but part of the engineering process.

“It’s going to be kind of a pain because we’re already approaching the end of the year and we have very few meetings left,” she said. “But it just means we’ll have to work even harder.”

There are many ways to fix the car, said Senior Garcia, a member of the manufacturing team.

“I think, probably, we’ll replace the cut tube,” he said.

The team will take two student-made cars to Fort Worth, Texas, in July for the 2022 Solar Car Challenge. The race is scheduled to start July 13-20. This year’s race is closed.

The Solar Falcon Race team will compete in two sections: the advanced classic section with the program’s solar car, called the Helios Falcon, and the solar powered section with the two-seater electric car called the Electric Falcon.

The team’s travel to Texas could potentially be at risk, due to California’s ban on state-sponsored travel to states with discriminatory laws. As of Saturday, the team is still heading to Texas.

“I think we’re good,” Rodriguez said, adding that they had a possible solution.

The total cost of the trip is about $35,000. Student airline tickets have already been purchased. The team can accept donations that can cover travel costs as well as to support cars.

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