Students have worked hard for the past 4 years to get their vehicles to production-ready level, and at this year’s competition they’ll be taking one of the final steps in that process as they drive their vehicles in an Over the Road testing event.
The 167-mile route in Pomona, CA, which consists of city and freeway driving, is modeled after industry “buy-off” rides, which is one of the last steps before a vehicle is sent to the showroom, with the goal of exposing the vehicle to multiple road conditions. The EcoCAR 3 Over the Road route will contain elements and grades not found in the closed tracks at competition, and will allow organizers to evaluate energy consumption and vehicle endurance in real-world conditions. For many teams, this will be the first time their vehicles have driven on public roads.
The teams will set out on Sunday, May 20, after they’ve proven to judges that their vehicles are road-safe and have enough charge to complete the event. During the Yuma portion of the competition, teams will have participated in the E&EC portion to understand how much energy they are storing in their vehicle’s battery, and how much electric energy is spent from a full charge to a charge-sustaining state. The vehicles will start out in intermediate traffic, then face an uphill grade portion, as the Pomona landscape consists of valleys and hills. The teams will then drive through highways with higher speed traffic, and finally a down-hill grade and through a city portion.
The Over the Road event may be one of the biggest challenges that the students will face with their vehicles at competition, as they will be driving in varying traffic conditions, along interstates and in unpredictable city situations, and will need to ensure that there are no breakdowns along the way that could take them out of the running. But it’s also one that will give them points toward the final competition score, and allow them to prove that their vehicle would be ready for consumers to drive.
Check back on the Green Garage Blog to see how teams are preparing for the event, and then see how they fare as they take to the open road in May!