The MINDDRIVE class received a Lotus Esprit and plan to use its frame for the future two-seater electric MINDDRIVE car.
Written by Elias Joseph Williams, Student at Lincoln Prep Academy
The Aerodynamics of any car are usually overlooked by consumers, but they play an important role in how a car drives and looks. The MINDDRIVE car’s “swoopy” sleek design isn’t just for show, it serves as an aerodynamic exoskeleton for maximum efficiency.
This year’s car weighs about 1100lbs, goes about 60 mph and is planned to go 100 miles on a charge (that’s 499kg, 97kph and 161km). Without the proper shape none of these goals would be reached. An Indy Car is one of the most aerodynamic machines on the road today, and that is the base for our electric MINDDRIVE car. Indy Cars can cut through the air at 200mph (322kph) like a steak knife through butter. Its body is somewhat useless at slow speeds like say 60mph, our car’s predetermined top speed. To make the car as efficient as possible we had to eliminate the resistance of the down force that the Indy Car was made to generate, so, we built around it.
Using steel rods and some industrial shrink wrap the first car’s trademark transparent skin was born. Because we plan to drive this car on a public highway at 60mph we will need a tougher, more sturdy material to protect from bugs and other objects.
“Road ready.” Those two words have shaped the whole process of building this year’s car. If you look at the differences between this year and last year’s car you will see that this year’s has a more futuristic and also realistic look. With the new material, whatever that may be, it will look even more contoured and like a car you might see on the road in 5 or so years. All of the hours of sketching and designing and welding and building on this car’s exterior have been because of aerodynamics. Getting the downward and upward forces into equilibrium add fuel efficiency to the car, making the car go farther on a charge. The epitome of aerodynamic shapes for a car or any moving object is called the Morelli shape, and although you may not have heard of it, you’ve seen it. It’s a teardrop.
Its shape is ideal for any speed and its coefficient of drag (COD) is .04 which is easily considered the best. Coefficient of drag is an equation combining aerodynamics and friction, the lower the number the better. For example: a 2003 Hummer H2 has a COD of 0.57, whereas a 2010 Toyota Prius has one of 0.25. Aerodynamics is a very complex yet simple science. Studying the movement of fluids around an object has been one of the many highlights of these summer classes. It is an underrated element when it comes to car buying but that still doesn’t diminish the fact that car companies hire people specifically for developing the most efficient, aerodynamic bodies. We may not have that perfect shape but with all the time and effort put into this project we will come away with more knowledge.
Elias Joseph Williams
The MINDDRIVE students and mentors started their new 2011 car in May.
This year’s car has expectations beyond that of last year’s car. We are building this year’s car to be “road-ready” so that we can prove that the cars that we build can actually be driven on the road just like a gas-powered car.
The car is designed to go a maximum of 60 mph and expected to drive 100 miles to the charge. We plan to take the car on a cross-country road trip from San Diego, California to Jacksonville, Florida.
Since electric cars need to be charged in order to run we plan on having our car charge for approximately 40 minutes, the trip is 2400 miles so we expect to stop at least 24 times to charge it. Student mentor Carolyn Johnson came up with a road plan for all the stops we should take during the trip down to exactly where and when. The MINDDRIVE students and mentors are building a mobile charging station that will be contained on a charge support truck.
Some of the stops that we plan to make are San Diego, California, Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, Las Cruces, New Mexico, San Antonio, Houston, and El Paso, Texas, New Orleans and Baton Rogue, Louisiana, Gulfport, Mississippi, Mobile, Alabama, and Tallahassee and Jacksonville, Florida.
Besides trying to prove that our car can be considered “road-ready” we also want to take this trip to get the word out about our class and the reasons why we build these amazing vehicles.
Written by: I’Toya McConnell
Several MINDDRIVE students and mentors participated today in the Art of the Car Concours at the Kansas City Art Institute. This car, based on a Reynard Indy chassis, is in the preliminary design stage, but the body, made from transparent plastic film, is similar to the car created last year. Students below are, from left, Ehiner Perez, Elias Williams and Itoya McConnell.
In the third class session, Phil Hill and Steve Rees lectured on the basics of aerodynamics. Students then attached strings to two passenger cars and watched their movement as the cars drove by. This exercise gives a simple visual demonstration of how air moves over a car’s body. In the fourth class, students and mentors presented preliminary sketches of a body for the car. Students and mentors attacked individual tasks in order to get the car’s body partially configured for display at the Art of the Car Concours on June 26th.
With bright smiles and a sense of anticipation, 15 students and 13 adult mentors met for the first time on Saturday, May 21, for the first MINDDRIVE class of 2011. Ten students will work on constructing a new electric car using a 1998 Reynard chassis as a base, while six students will form a communications class that will document the car project, update the website and shoot photos and videos.
The DeLaSalle car is back home after spending three weeks on display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the Firestone garage. The transparent body is feather light and amazingly beautiful.
Now it is time to install the electrical components and get the car ready for the Art of the Car Concours on June 27.
It took one week to go from the plastic skin to a foam mold to laying up the fiberglass body. Two layers of fiberglass were applied to create the full body. The fiberglass body was ultimately discarded in favor of the see-through plastic skin in order to save weight.