Solar powered car crashes highlight required safety changes

Popular Mechanics has posted an article on solar car racing that takes a look at one aspect of the sport that many, including myself, probably overlook: safety. Considering that the goal of the vehicle itself is to be as light and fast as possible, the fact that the cars might be lacking in structure should not be surprising. Also, a covering of solar cells is probably not the most crash-worthy skin available. The fact that people have actually died racing solar cars highlights all of the above facts, so the safety of solar racing cars really needs to be investigated.

The picture of a crashed solar car over at Popular Mechanics shows how dangerous the sport can be. MIT's Tesseract flipped over during a qualifying run. "We don't actually know what happened, the qualifying standard for WSC 2005 was that the cars needed to drive two laps around a twisty, curvy road course, with the second lap determining the starting order. Looking back, this is a recipe for disaster, " MIT team captain Alexander Hayman says.

Fortunately, that recipe for disaster is being remedied with roll cages, safety harnesses, braking and evacuation tests and mandatory helmets.

[Source: Popular Mechanics]

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