Last week Endeavour was tested again at Ford’s test track at Dunton (Essex). The day started off with a bit of slow driving by me – very slow to start with, in fact, since it was the first time I’d ever driven a solar car! I can tell you that I was very excited! And, despite my earlier reservations, the seating position was not all that uncomfortable – though I wasn’t in for four hours, and it wasn’t forty degree heat. Still, it was great fun.
After that there was some more testing, and we began to find a few problems. This is exactly what the testing is for. We were looking to find nothing major, and nothing that isn’t fixable before the race.
A large amount of the driving was done using a remote link to control the car. This is similar to the system that will be used in Australia where the lead or chase vehicle can control the cruise control of Endeavour via a wireless link. When up and running, the car will be directly controlled via an external laptop. However, as an interim measure at the moment, the car has a laptop attached to the shell, and the chase vehicle is controlling that laptop via a remote desktop! This is a less than ideal situation, especially since the range of this wireless network leaves something to be desired; this will be fixed with the actual implementation.*
Other testing revealed that there were a few mechanical teething problems. All road testing was done with the top shell off so that the internal workings could be seen.
The following day the Endeavour was tested in Ford’s environmental test chamber, where the temperature was set to 45 degrees Centigrade. Australian sunlight and wind conditions were also simulated. This allowed the team to see how the car deals with the wind, and how the driver can cope with the heat. In future it will also allow the solar array to be tested.
I found this day’s testing very exciting, and was very pleased to get a chance to drive the car. CUER would like to thank Ford for allowing us to use the test track.
CUER will next be track testing the weekend of the 15th and 16th of August.
* I have since spoken to the electronics and strategy guys who have reliably informed me that this system is ready, and can be track tested next time we are at Dunton.