The Electrical Team, like its name suggests, is reponsible for all the electrical related issues and all the electronics. The electrical system contains many student-designed Printed Circuit Boards (PCB), and each circuit board is responsible for a specific task on the car - data collection, screen display, motor control, etc. The car is designed so that each board can operate essentially independently of each other in performing their assigned task, and the boards are connected to each other via the CAN network for data communication. Most boards use the BRAIN as their central processing unit and are housed in the PCB Box.
The data team is responsible for handling data and communication between modules of the car. All messages sent over CAN are stored locally on a server within the solar vehicle and sent wirelessly to the chase car for real-time monitoring, debugging, and strategizing. Our new telemetry server will be the BeagleBone, a small single-board computer running embedded Linux.
Human-Car Interface (HCI)
The HCI Team is tasked with designing and manufacturing the electrical portion of the car's control systems as well as all auxiliary electronics for driver comfort and car to car interface. Major ongoing projects include the electrical design of a dashboard [display], steering wheel, and accelerator and gas pedals. The auxiliary infrastructure usually consists of exterior lights, rear view cameras, and the horn. Supplementary projects include the design of a motor controller board designed to interface between our vehicle and third-party motor controllers. The main responsibility of this sub team is to ensure that the driver has all the tools necessary to safely and reliably operate the vehicle in all road conditions.
The power team is responsible for storing and distributing power safely and efficiently. The main responsibilities are the power distribution system, the batteries protection systems, and the maximum power point trackers. The power distribution system ensures the motors have sufficient power and provides a stable power source for the various electronics on the vehicle. The battery protection systems prevent the batteries from overheating and tracks their state of charge. Lastly, the maximum power point trackers maximizes the power from the solar cells.
The solar subteam deals with all things related to the solar cells that power our vehicle. We utilize the fields of materials science and electrical engineering from encapsulation of the solar cells that provide physical protection of the solar cells without compromising efficiency, to contact ribbons and wires that deliver the energy generated to perform useful work to various parts of the car.