Nimbus, the car designed by the MIT Solar Electric Vehicle Team, won its category at the 2021 American Solar Challenge (ASC), traveling 1,109 miles at an average speed of 38.4 miles per hour in a five-day race that ended August 7.
In 2021, instead of being timed as usual, the race was based on distance traveled. Each team followed the same route, from Independence, Missouri, to Las Vegas, New Mexico. But teams could drive additional miles within each of the three stages—if their battery had the juice. Traveling with seven support vehicles, Nimbus beat eight other single-occupancy cars, surpassing the runner-up by over 100 miles.
“It’s still a little surreal,” says Aditya Mehrotra, a senior in electrical engineering and computer science, who was the team captain last year. The team had spent three years designing and testing Nimbus, practicing a series of qualifying challenges called “scrutineering” and completing what’s known as the “shakedown”—“you drive the car around the track and you basically see what falls off, and then you know what you need to fix,” Mehrotra explains.
Then, two weeks before the ASC, they competed in the Formula Sun Grand Prix in Topeka, Kansas, where team member Cameron Kokesh tied for the fastest single lap around the track at three minutes and 19 seconds.
The team did encounter some problems on the route, such as a day with little sun when the car had to chug along at 15 miles per hour. And there was the time that the Kansas State Police pulled the entire caravan over. But team members say the car’s light weight, aerodynamic design, and reliability helped them prevail.
Nimbus is slated to race again next summer, and the team also hopes to design a multiple-occupancy vehicle for 2024.
This new data poisoning tool lets artists fight back against generative AI
The tool, called Nightshade, messes up training data in ways that could cause serious damage to image-generating AI models.
Rogue superintelligence and merging with machines: Inside the mind of OpenAI’s chief scientist
An exclusive conversation with Ilya Sutskever on his fears for the future of AI and why they’ve made him change the focus of his life’s work.
Data analytics reveal real business value
Sophisticated analytics tools mine insights from data, optimizing operational processes across the enterprise.
How to fix the internet
If we want online discourse to improve, we need to move beyond the big platforms.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.