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UBC Engineers Reach Mileage Of Over 3000 MPG 625

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the not-exactly-your-steel-cage-suv dept.
The New Revelation writes "Physorg reports that engineers at UBC have developed a single occupancy vehicle that achieves a ridiculous 3145 MPG! From the article: 'The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Supermileage Competition took place June 9 in Marshall, Michigan. Forty teams from Canada, the U.S. and India competed in designing and building the most fuel-efficient vehicle... The UBC design, which required the driver to lie down while navigating it, achieved 3,145 miles per US gallon (0.074 liters/100 km) -- equivalent of Vancouver to Halifax on a gallon (3.79 liters) of gas -- costing less than $5 at the pump.'"
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UBC Engineers Reach Mileage Of Over 3000 MPG

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  • by Sentri (910293) * on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @12:24AM (#15573942) Homepage
    What is it in something useful like, say...

    rods per hogshead?

    (for all those about to find out for me: google tells me that 3 145 miles per gallon = 63 403 200 rods per hogshead)
    • Are we talking about US hogsheads or UK hogsheads?
    • by SolitaryMan (538416) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @03:29AM (#15574476) Homepage Journal
      Google tells me that 3 145 miles per gallon = 1 337.07695 kilometers per liter

      This means that in Europe, this guys would be really 1337 hax0rs :)
      • Google tells me that 3 145 miles per gallon = 1 337.07695 kilometers per liter


        Hand over your geek card imposter! Real geeks know it's

        3.14159mpg = 1337 kpl
    • by mrops (927562) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @09:12AM (#15575212)
      The driver of the vehical died later due to fatigue by paddling the vehicle for 3145 miles.
  • by conner_bw (120497) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @12:25AM (#15573946) Homepage Journal
    ..but does it come in SUV?

  • speed? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by x2A (858210) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @12:27AM (#15573953)
    Wonder what speed it travels for it's optimal fuel consumtion

    • Re:speed? (Score:3, Funny)

      by MrSquirrel (976630)
      Additionally, how much of a tail wind did it have... and how many cans of beans did the driver eat?
      • Re:speed? (Score:5, Funny)

        by Walt Dismal (534799) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @01:14AM (#15574137)
        In EPA tests, the vehicle was found to get 0.3 mile per bean (MPB). This assumes no extra tacos were consumed by the driver and that the driver does not take Beano. Your mileage may vary depending on brand, as Hunt's is equivalent to standard, Van Camp's midgrade, Heinz is premium, and B&M Baked is only allowed within Boston city limits and not before a Celtics game. This information has been provided by the American Bean Council. Got Bean?
    • Re:speed? Results (Score:5, Informative)

      by saskboy (600063) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @12:38AM (#15574000) Homepage Journal
      Competition results, warning PDF http://www.sae.org/students/sm2006results.pdf [sae.org]

      Indiana and a HS there too came in with high MPG, as did Laval in Quebec province.
    • Re:speed? (Score:5, Informative)

      by xstonedogx (814876) <xstonedogx@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @12:40AM (#15574008)
      According to the rules [sae.org] they were required to have an average speed between 15 and 25 mph (24-40.23 km/hr). They drive six laps for a total of 9.6 miles (15.5km).
      • Re:speed? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by joggle (594025) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @01:47AM (#15574232) Homepage Journal
        I wish they would come up with a challenge making a better car rather than a better bike. Seriously, who would buy a car that can only carry a 130 lbs (59 kg) person (actually, less than that since that weight includes clothing and gear according to the rules) 15 mph? I appreciate that they are trying to prove what is possible with small, efficient engines. But is it really a 'car' if it has the same perfomance as a bicycle?

        Also, why such a severe restriction on the engine? According to the rules they must use a specific 4-cylinder engine produced by Briggs & Stratton. Seems to cramp creativity a bit (although I guess it gives them a sponser).

        • Re:speed? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Bananatree3 (872975) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @03:07AM (#15574426)
          Why restrict to a certain engine? There are several possible reasons for this:

          One: As you said, it's advertising for one of their biggest sponsers, Briggs & Stratton.


          Two: Limiting all teams to a standard engine focuses the contest on designing a super efficient body. It gives a somewhat scientific control to the "experiment" of the race you could say.


          Three: It may (possibly) be a deterrent for the teams to not cop out and buy a super duper-efficient experimental engine from some no-name company and call it as their own.



          • Re:speed? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by RingDev (879105) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @09:33AM (#15575313) Homepage Journal
            "Three: It may (possibly) be a deterrent for the teams to not cop out and buy a super duper-efficient experimental engine from some no-name company and call it as their own. "

            And what's wrong with that? If a team wins using some start-up company's new experimental engine, the company with the engine gets advertising and investment, and the team gets a win. Not to mention the team winners will likely have a great shot at getting a job with that company.

            -Rick
        • Re:speed? (Score:5, Funny)

          by famebait (450028) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @04:49AM (#15574622)
          And don't get me started on those olympic running competitions. The tracks are totally unrealistic, unlike anything you'd find if you really needed to run from or to anything. And what's with those restrictions about equipment? I mean, if you wanted to get somewhere fast, you would of course use a motor vehicle, but that's forbidden. Why stifle creativity like that. Rubbish.
        • Re:speed? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by rufty_tufty (888596) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @07:20AM (#15574890) Homepage
          You know there's a word for someone who looks at a new technology and sees that it doesn't have direct application to his life and therefore talks it down.

          Seriously this is research, they are pushing the limits as far in one direction as they possibly can with the assumption that if you research at the extreme then you'll learn things that can be applied to more mundane situations.
          What next? IBM issue a press release about new transistors based on nanotubes that go 1000X faster and you complain that because there won't be a processor available based on them available any time soon that they are wasting their time?

          Watching Karma burn in 5, 4, 3, 2 ....
        • Re:speed? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by timeOday (582209) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @09:35AM (#15575321)
          I supppose drag racing totally escapes you as well?

          Look, any time you optimize for a single parameter of performance, you're going to get something weird. But it allows you to push that single aspect of performance and measure it independent of everything else. That way you know what compromises you're making in that area when you make a more realistic design.

          Personally I'm amazed a vehicle can carry a person and get over 3000 MPG. It really puts the status quo into perspective.

    • Re:speed? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @12:51AM (#15574055)
      From the official rules:

      40.1 Minimum and Maximum Speed Requirement
      The performance run will consist of each vehicle running six laps around a 2.6 km (1.6 mile) oval test track. The vehicle must achieve a minimum six lap average speed of 24 km/hr (15 mph). This means that each vehicle will be required to travel a total distance of 15.5 km (9.6 miles) in a maximum of 38.4 minutes. The vehicle must not exceed a single lap average speed of 25mph (40.23km). This means a vehicle must take longer than 3 minutes 50 seconds to complete each lap. Vehicles must be capable of ascending a 1 percent grade and descending a 7 percent grade.

      40.2 Slow Speed Penalty
      If the minimum average speed of 24 km/hr (15 mph) is not maintained, a penalty will be assessed by subtracting from the km/liter (mpg) achieved, 4.25 km/liter (10 mpg) per second of time that the minimum average speed requirement is not met. For instance, if 39 minutes was the elapsed time for six laps, the minimum allowable time, without
      ©2004 SAE International 20 2005 Supermileage
      penalty (38.4 minutes) was exceeded by 36 seconds. The actual mileage achieved would be reduced by 153.1 km/liter (360 mpg).

      40.3 Maximum Speed Penalty
      If the maximum lap average speed of 40.23 km/hr (25 mph) is exceeded, a penalty will be assessed by subtracting from the km/liter (mpg) achieved, 4.25 km/liter (10 mpg) per second of time that the maximum average lap speed requirement is not met. For instance, if the third lap was completed in 3 minutes 12 seconds, the minimum allowable time, without penalty (3 minutes 50 seconds) was exceeded by 38 seconds. The actual mileage achieved would be reduced by km/liter (380 mpg).

      40.4 Start
      Prior to the performance run, an official fuel tank (supplied) will be filled, weighed and installed on the vehicle. The start of the performance run will begin with the vehicle being placed on the track starting line. The vehicle engine is then started, either by the driver or his pit crew. Timing for the minimum speed requirement starts when the vehicle crosses the starting line. Vehicles cannot be push started. Transmission design must be such that the engine can be disconnected from the driving wheels so as to allow the vehicle to be stationary with the engine running.

      40.5 Finish
      Upon completion of the six lap performance run, 15.5 km (9.6 miles), the timers will record the elapsed time; the fuel tank will be removed and weighed. The kilometer per liter (miles per gallon) calculation for the vehicle will then be computed, dividing the 15.5 km (9.6 mile) distance by the amount of fuel used. If the maximum allowable elapsed time has been exceeded, the penalty will be computed and subtracted from the kilometer per liter (miles per gallon) calculation.
    • Re:speed? (Score:5, Informative)

      by mrcaseyj (902945) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @01:09AM (#15574115)
      They go something like 15mi/hr. They turn the engine on and get up some speed then turn it off and coast a while. They use Briggs and Stratton four stroke lawnmower engines with custom machined cylinder heads and such. Of course the cars are basically like bicycles with aerodynamic fairings on them.
    • Re:speed? (Score:3, Informative)

      by numbski (515011) *
      Per the rules:

      "Slalom Section: Vehicle must traverse 30.5 meters (100 feet) slalom section in less than 15 seconds."

      They're using a lawnmower engine that can do up to 3600 RPM, 4 cycle. (4 cylinders then?)

      Also, section 40.1:

      "Minimum and Maximum Speed Requirement

      The performance run will consist of each vehicle running six laps around a 2.6 km (1.6 mile) oval test track. The vehicle must achieve a minimum six lap average speed of 24 km/hr (15 mph)."

      So there you have it. It has to go at least as fast as som
      • Re:speed? (Score:3, Informative)

        by smash (1351)
        They're using a lawnmower engine that can do up to 3600 RPM, 4 cycle. (4 cylinders then?)

        "4 cycle" means 4-stroke, not 4 cylinder.

        If it's the engine i'm thinking off (briggs+stratton typical thing) then it's a single cylinder 4 stroke.

      • Re:speed? (Score:3, Informative)

        by MjrTom (68324)
        They're using a lawnmower engine that can do up to 3600 RPM, 4 cycle. (4 cylinders then?)

        No, 4 cycle means 4-stoke ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4-stroke [wikipedia.org]) engine, as opposed to a 2-stroke engine. EPA laws now forbid new 2-stroke vehicles from using the 2-stroke (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2-stroke [wikipedia.org]) type engine (you usually see 2-strokes in things like chainsaws and dirtbikes - you have to mix oil in with the gas). The thing is that 4-stroke designs are much more environmentally friendly than 2-stroke
        • Re:speed? (Score:3, Informative)

          by lowrydr310 (830514)

          (more HP for less gas used)

          Are you sure? Two-strokes are less fuel efficient than a four-stroke of similar size, though they produce significantly more power than a four-stroke of similar size. A 250cc two-stroke engine sucks a lot more gasoline (and the oil mixed with it) than a 250cc four-stroke, though the two-stroke makes a lot more power. The main advantages of a two-stroke is that they produce lots of power in a small package. Another nice thing is that they don't require an oil sump, which allows

      • Re:speed? (Score:5, Informative)

        by TheViffer (128272) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @02:30AM (#15574343)
        4 cycle does not mean 4 pistons. It's a reference to how many times the piston moves to make a complete "cycle". In the case of a 4 cycle, it fires once every 2 times it goes up. A 2-stroke fires each time the piston is up.

        Basically they took a Makita 54cc (3.3 cubic inches) engine off a chainsaw (capable of doing 12,000 rpm) and hooked it up to a chain/belt and used that.
    • Re:speed? (Score:3, Informative)

      by ithinkuknow (598474)
      The teams that win use a "coast and burn" technique. Since the college competition requires you to use a 1.5HP briggs and stratton engine, most teams de-tune the engine and find that it's most efficient at high speeds. So instead of just running at a constant 20MPH they open up the throttle, get to a certain speed and kill the engine. Then they start up the engine and do it again.
  • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @12:28AM (#15573956)
    ...you've invented the bicycle!

    Chris Mattern
    • Re:Good lord, man... (Score:3, Informative)

      by SirSlud (67381)
      Amusing, sure, but it should be noted before it gets out of hand that all forms of human propulsion were against the rules.

      That makes the inevitable fart jokes less witty too, just to be a pedantic hard-ass. :)
    • by jmv (93421)
      Can *you* go 3,145 miles on a bicycle and drink only a gallon?
      • by 20th Century Boy (903797) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @01:05AM (#15574104)
        On meth, yes.
      • Can *you* go 3,145 miles on a bicycle and drink only a gallon?

        Because I ride a bicycle to work I can accuse people who run the same distance of "wasting energy". Perhaps in the future radical motorists will direct the same accusation at me when they do the 10km commute on 1Kj (or whatever).

  • Details? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Skynyrd (25155) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @12:31AM (#15573966) Homepage
    I read TFA, and it made no mention of speed, distance or any other aspect of the contest. The driver lies down, but how? On the stomache, or the back (with a periscope?). Were they inside to avoid being blown about (aboot?) by the wind?

    I'm assuming they didn't drive it across Canada.

    Sheesh.
  • by Jazzer_Techie (800432) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @12:32AM (#15573972)
    I'm not sure why English volume/distance measurement was (albeit correcly) switched to a distance/volume measurement in the metric conversion.

    Whatever the case, it can't be a coincidence that this gets 1337 km/L.
  • by StikyPad (445176) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @12:34AM (#15573983) Homepage
    Strangely, the entire team is now missing [wikipedia.org]. Big oil had no comment.
  • Only ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Professeur Shadoko (230027) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @12:35AM (#15573985)
    http://www.paccar.ethz.ch/news/index [paccar.ethz.ch] These guys got 5385 km/l (that's 12,666 MPG !) in 2005.
    • by jd (1658) <imipak@yaCOLAhoo.com minus caffeine> on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @03:17AM (#15574442) Homepage Journal
      There are fuel economy races all over Europe, Silverstone motor racing circuit being used for the British race in the series. These used to require petrol (gasoline to Americans) engines only, but in the last few years, this could be supplemented by other energy sources (but not human power). When I was still in 6th form, the winner had managed 6,500 mpg. The last race prior to introducing alternative energy saw an amazing 9,998 mpg. The races after that, to me, aren't nearly as interesting as it is impossible to distinguish on the numbers alone an improvement in design (of car or engine) from a really good, sunny day.


      For the UBC to be at a paltry third of the efficiency of European cars is not terribly impressive in itself, unless the burdens placed by the rules are substantially more severe.


      On a side-note, it occured to me some time back that very often, students living in a University city need something a little more solid than a bicycle and a lot cheaper to maintain than a full car. These vehicles would sorta fit into this category. The idea I have is for nearly-disposable cars, where it has sufficient fuel and oil to last a year or more of typical student usage. The student rents it for an academic year for next to nothing, needs to perform zero maintenance for the whole time, and then returns it. This eliminates any fuel price issues, the risk of running out of fuel when going to lectures or dates, etc.


      Minis filled this role OK, but they're a pain to maintain and are relatively expensive on fuel. The biggest drawbacks are that the fuel efficient cars are incapable of carrying any significant weight (so forget carrying the books for a day - those would weigh more than the car!) and that you can't exactly carpool with them. The lack of creash resistance is a non-issue, as minis have a habit of exploding on impact. I'd swear that the scriptwriters for the A-Team must have owned minis.

  • by elgee (308600) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @12:36AM (#15573989)
    How can you get laid in it?
  • by PornMaster (749461) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @12:37AM (#15573994) Homepage
    There's got to be a way to calculate the maximum amount traveled per gallon of gasoline cumbusted by looking at the maximum theoretical energy released by that process, and given a minimum reasonable drag/friction, and the requirement to initially get a minimum reasonable mass up to a speed reasonable to calculate the MPG.

    I'm not particularly capable of determining the inputs, nor do I know the calculation to apply, but it'd be interesting to see what an ideal might be, to measure percent efficiency attained.
  • by pixelite (20946) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @12:40AM (#15574007) Journal
    At least they wouldn't be if the oil companies didn't havev their way.

    1. Some folks at Shell Oil Co. wrote "Fuel Economy of the Gasoline Engine" (ISBN 0-470-99132-1); it was published by John Wiley & Sons, New York, in 1977. On page 42 Shell Oil quotes the President of General Motors, he, in 1929, predicted 80 MPG by 1939. Between pages 221 and 223 Shell writes of their achievements: 49.73 MPG around 1939; 149.95 MPG with a 1947 Studebaker in 1949; 244.35 MPG with a 1959 Fiat 600 in 1968; 376.59 MPG with a 1959 Opel in 1973. The Library of Congress (LOC), in September 1990, did not have a copy of this book. It was missing from the files. I bought my copy from Maryland Book Exchange around 1980 after a professor informed me that it was used as an engineering text at the University of West Virginia.]

    VPI published a paper, March 1979, concerning maximum achievable fuel economy. This paper has several charts illustrating achievable and impossible fuel economy. About 1980 I contacted the author concerning conflicts between the paper and documented achieved "impossible" mpg. The author said, "I will get back to you.". I am still waiting for his response.

    2. The book "Secrets of the 200 MPG Carburetor" is by Allan Wallace and was available, about 198(?), from Premier Distributing, 1775 Broadway, NY, NY, 10019. Page 18 has photocopies of three 1936 tests by the Ford Motor Co. (Canada) of the Pogue carburetor (U.S. Patent # 2,026,798). The worst case test achieved about 171 MP(US)G. I can not provide any other publishing information because the book is among the material stolen from me in 1986. My copy of page 18 is very poor.] (3/08/04. I am grateful to Lee Winslett for a copy of this book and the article from Colliers.)

    Collier's magazine, in 1929, published an article "300 Miles to the gallon.

    3. Argosy Magazine, August 1977, has a five-page article (Text copy here.) about Tom Ogle and the media witnessed test of the "Oglemobile". Tom Ogle, on that test run, achieved more than 100 MPG in a 4,600 pound 1970 Ford Galaxie. When I attempted to find a copy of that Argosy Magazine, it was missing from LOC files in 1980. Argosy ceased publication, I was informed, a short time after the Ogle article was published. I could not find a copy of that Argosy issue at any library within 200 miles of my home. An Editor at the company that purchased Argosy found and mailed a copy to me. While attempting to verify statements in the article, I spoke with Doug Lenzini (SP?) with the EL Paso Times. Mr. Lenzini informed me that he knew Tom Ogle, and the Oglemobile achieved more than 200 MPG. When I contacted the El Paso NBC affiliate that filmed the test run described in the Argosy article, I was informed that the person who had filmed the test had left the station and taken all the records with him.]

    A. The Ogle U.S. Patent, #4,177,779, has this statement "I have been able to obtain extremely high gas mileages with the system of the present invention installed on a V-8 engine of a conventional 1971 American made automobile. In fact, mileage rates in excess of one hundred miles per gallon have been achieved with the present invention." According to the Argosy article, a Shell Oil Co. representative asked Ogle what he would do if someone offered him $25 Million for the system. Ogle responded "I would not be interested" He later said, "I've always wanted to be rich, and I suspect I will be when this system gets into distribution. But I'm not going to have my system bought up and put on the shelf. I'm going to see this thing through--that I promise." According to an article in The Washington Post Parade Magazine, March 4, 1984, Tom Ogle died of a drug and alcohol overdose in 1981. Other articles concerning Tom Ogle can be found in the El Paso Journal, January 16, 1980, and also, The Hamilton Spectator, June 24, 1978.

    B. The Oglemobile, in simplification, ran on fumes extracted from a heated tank in the trunk (See the Ogle patent.) A very simple method of extracting gasoline fumes is described in a
    • Re:Snopes.com (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @01:05AM (#15574105)

      Not a direct hit but close enough.

      http://www.snopes.com/autos/business/carburetor.as p [snopes.com]

      There are too many automobile companies.

      There are too many motorcycle companies.

      There are too many lawnmower companies.

      There are too many gasoline engine makers... in the world... for your story to be credible.

      In addition, I offer other anti-super fuel efficiency arguments:

      Is it plausable that this technology was supressed during World War II, when the outcome of major battles depended on gasoline more than once and there was massive rationing in the states (ration coupons for gasoline, etc.)

      Is it plausible that perhaps companies composing a fraction of 1% of the economy could suppress this information from the rest of the economy which would make so much money off it (every major trucking company, every taxi company, every delivery company, etc.).

      I think the other companies have too much to looossee* for them to let such an invention be supressed.

      ---
      * I have given up trying to oppose the increasingly popular misuse of "loose" as "lose" so now I will join with them.. but of course I am way behind on having the proper number of extra letters by the new contemporary spelling of loooose so I'll be putting in even more extra o's to catch up.

    • by robbak (775424) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @02:54AM (#15574403) Homepage

      This guy has the common misconception that having a US patent is evidence that your invention actually works. Or even exists.

      A US patent simply means that you were able to confuse an undertrained patents clerk.

    • by David Off (101038) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @06:13AM (#15574746) Homepage
      > In 2003 another English newspaper tested a 75-mpg Toyota diesel.

      That is probably the Yaris. I have one and it does go a long long way. It is also pretty fast with a top speed of 110 mph and good handling.

      I generally fill up around once a month, which is nice with diesek prices in France around 1.1 euros per liter (close to $7/gallon - gas/petrol costs more). I generally get around 550 miles on a seven point five gallon tank... most driving on country roads with some motorway driving to 80 mph. Journeys usually around 30-50 miles. If I drove a bit more frugally I could probably get over 100 mpg. I do very few short journeys though - generally walk or take my bicycle.
    • by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @06:16AM (#15574748)
      Let's look at a few facts:
      • During WW2, the British protected their island with various fighter planes, many powered by an internal-combustion engine called "the Merlin". (Incidentally, it wasnt named after the magician).
      • The Merlin engine had been under intensive development for several years, eventually, due to improvements in carburation, supercharging, and internal strength, going from under 1,000 HP to over 2000 HP.
      • But it's specific fuel consumption didnt improve much if at all.
      • Now it's hard to imagine a strong enough conspiracy, when your nation is on the verge of being overrun by the Huns, to still hold down improvements in engine economy and efficiency.
      • Same thing happened later on to the US. Our bombers had to go over Germany without fighter escoerts, because the P-51 fighter planes, also powered by Merlins, did not have the range to stay with the bombers all the way to Germany and back.
      • Lots of bombers were shot down over Germany, lkosing ten US airmen per plane.
      • Much later, drop tanks were developed to increase their range. Note they didnt just tune up the engines, instead it took over a year to develop the drop thanks, pipes, pumps latches, and stability tests to increase the P-51's range.

      Same thing could be said of Israeli tanks and planes. They were attacked many times, and they didnt drag out the 200MPG carburetors either.

      So let's just retire the 200MPG stories, okay?

  • by rufusdufus (450462) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @12:41AM (#15574014)
    This vehicle looks just as unrealistic as the solar cars they race in Australia, the main difference being that the Solar cars use no fuel at all! Whats the point? This stuff will never be used on a massive scale.

    Its time these challenges insert ergonomic requirements into their competitions. Start with requiring the cabin to have a certain size, with reasonble seats,leg room, and storage. In this way they can start tackling the real issues with fuel consumption.
  • Sounds scary (Score:3, Informative)

    by Shippy (123643) * on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @12:45AM (#15574030)
    While I think efforts like this are great, it's likely a fairly flimsy vehicle due to its super lightweight construction. Getting in a wreck with another vehicle at almost any relevant speed would probably cause great harm, especially if the occupant is lying down in a forward-facing stomach-down orientation (which is unclear from the article).
  • This is a big deal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Baldrson (78598) * on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @12:51AM (#15574057) Homepage Journal
    Fair contests like this really separate the performers from the bullshitters. Its why you basically have to drag the government kicking and screaming to fund fair contests like this by embarrassing the hell out of them with stuff like the X-Prize.

    When you look at the race results [sae.org] a few things stand out:

    1. The winning entry beat the first runner up by a whopping 72%.
    2. The only "big name" university represented in the 22 entrants (all listed in the results) is UC Berkeley and they were seventh place.
    3. The only university outside of North America came in 18th place, and IIT, the darling of mainstream media like CBS "60 Minutes" didn't even compete (not that Caltech, MIT or CMU are any better for not having entered). Even so, congratulations to Dehli College of Engineering [dce.edu] for competing.
    4. The winning high school team from Evansville, Indiana, had the second best mileage out of all contenders including the universities.
  • by dino213b (949816) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @01:12AM (#15574127)
    ..of power to weight ratios. A bigger vehicle with a small engine will not be as efficient as with a mid-size engine. On the other hand, same small engine will be more efficient in a smaller vehicle. If you follow that trend to a vehicle size of a skateboard, you get some "incredible efficiencies," but they are unrealistic as they cannot be applied to a modern day concept of vehicles. Having said that, it's important to recognize that there are better and worse engine designs out there; it is not just a simple matter of weight and power ratios when it comes to the consumer.

    This headline is wishful thinking. I suddenly got reminded of the "500 ghz chip" news story from earlier this week. Most people started drooling over that headline thinking a new CPU speed barrier has been reached, when in actuality the speed referred to a single switching transistor running at ridiculously controlled conditions.

    Of course, the 100 mile per gallon carb lives in every last romantic one of us.
  • by howajo (707075) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @01:58AM (#15574255)
    I can say in all sincerity that I support MORE dangerous vehicles. We have, for the most part, eliminated the healthy and positive phenomenon of natural selection. I think that there SHOULD be a significant penalty for commiting stupid acts.

    With that in mind, I suggest that this ultralight vehicle be produced, but instead of a tiny 54cc engine, it should have about 500 hp. Also, it should have a bitchin' loud sound system, and old school bag phone, no seatbelt, and a shelf to hold your #5 combo. Maybe a coozy for your beer too.

  • by Terje Mathisen (128806) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @02:32AM (#15574351)
    A similar competition was recently held in Europe, contested by student teams:

    http://www.shell.com/home/Framework?siteId=eco-mar athon-en [shell.com]

    The winning entry ran on biofuel (Ethanol) and achieved 2885 km/liter, which should correspond to about 6800 miles/gallon:

    (Warning: PDF file)
    http://www.shell.com/static/eco-marathon-en/downlo ads/sem_press/Nogaro%20May%202006/press_release_se m_210506.pdf [shell.com]

    Terje
  • by pesc (147035) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @02:33AM (#15574353)
    Any nerd knows that fuel consumption is measured in square meters (m2 with the 2 superscripted).

    You have 0.074 liters/100 km which is:

    0.074dm3 / 100km = 0.000074m3 / 100000m = 0.00000000074m2 = 0.74mm2

    So the correct unit is 0.74 square millimeters!

    If you imagine a 100 km long pipe filled with 0.074 liters, the area of the cross section would be 0.74 square millimeters. ;-)
  • 'Official' response (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @02:51AM (#15574393)
    Dear esteemed /.'ers

    I'm a member of the team (Charlie Yao) and thought I'd give some clarifications to what seems to be common questions.

    Methodology of competition:
    Basically, you're given a topped off fuel bottle and you run 6 laps around the track (with other vehicles running simultaneously). Afterwards, they remove the fuel bottle and measure the amount you consumed (by weight). Do some math, you get your efficiency.

    Speed requirements:
    The rules state between 15-25MPH. In practice, with 6 laps, you're given a time frame in which to complete it. If you go out of this time frame, you're penalized heavily. The max time is 38.4 minutes. The min single lap time is 3min 50s. Obviously, we care more about the former.

    Driver orientation and details:
    The driver lies down on his back, feet first. He still has his head tilted up so he can see... imagine standing and looking at your feet. Only drivers of a max height can fit since our vehicle is specifically designed for one. The minimum weight of the driver is 130lbs and ballast is added otherwise.

    Litres/100km:
    On typical vehicles, quoting km/l gives unwieldy numbers (so I hear, I'm neutral) so instead they use litres per 100km. For us, the reverse applies... 1337km/l vs. 0.074 litres/100km. And yeah, it was amusing to get 1337 performance. FYI, you can do multiple runs on the track (one team got in 8 while we got in 4) and our mileage varied from about 2900-3145 MPG. They take your best result.

    Safety and practicallity:
    No, it is not safe on the road... not with typical road vehicles. It is relative of course since those who choose the more fuel concious cars get screwed by SUVs. If everyone drove small cars, it wouldn't seem as dangerous would it? There actually has been an incident in the past where a student has been killed while testing on a highway. I believe it was in Ontario and maybe by U of T but I'm not certain. As for practicallity, no, it's not... but neither is any car designed for performace. Look at an F1 car and tell me where you're going to fit your family.

    Info missing from TFA:
    1) Not everyone is as inquisitive as /. ...many would just look at the intro and conclusion sections of a report. We didn't provide too much detail so as not to bore.
    2) We have to keep some of our secrets away from our competitors :)

    I'll check back to this thread every so often and try to reply to the best of my ability. I'd just like to add that perhaps the biggest value is educational. There's been a lot of innovation especially since we don't have the largest budget. Teams that have to travel substantially shorter distances to the competition have trailers for their vehicle, tools and extra cars for their members. We travel in one minivan and literally duct tape the car to the roof. If we can't find some more sponsors for a trailer... maybe we should get some from 3M. Also, there are teams overseas that get 3-4times our mileage... basically professional teams with relatively unlimited resources. They also generally don't have engine requirements.

    Either way, it's been a great ride. It's eery to be on /. but we're honoured. Keep the discussion (criticism) flowing.

    Cheers,
    C

    P.S. Unfotunately the team pic didn't work out in my favour. I was using my shirt to hide oil stains from working on the car but it looks like I really need to go to the washroom :P Ah well.
  • by PhotoGuy (189467) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @03:22AM (#15574456) Homepage
    It is a bit misleading using an MPG rating, in such an unrealistic situation; as well as a bit senational to say "Vancouver to Halifax". I somewhat doubt these specialized units would have the ability to climb the grades to, say, cross the rockies, much less an average hill in Nova Scotia. (They'd probably do well on the prairies, though.)

    Impressive technology, nonetheless. I would like to see a similar competition where certain torque requirements were met, to carry a certain weight up a certain grade, during parts of the competition. As the mileage differences between small cars and trucks/SUV's attests, potential power comes at a great cost in mileage, even when that power isn't being utilized.

    This is why hybrids can do well; they switch to a mode with less power (batteries/electric) for casual driving, and flip to a more expensive means (gas), when more power is required. The UBC unit sounds a bit similar but on a much less powerful scale; the gas engine comes on now and then when a bit of power is required, and then it flips to its other mode, inertia, for as long as it can.
  • That's nothing ! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mr Europe (657225) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @03:23AM (#15574459)
    That's not even near the real World Champions.

    See the latest Shell Eco-Marathon results:
    http://www.shell.com/static/eco-marathon-en/downlo ads/sem_results/Nogaro_May_2006/Race_classificatio n.pdf [shell.com]

    And please note the column "Best test / Meilleur essai" is in the kilometers/litre.
    Thus the winners result 2885 km/litre eguals about 6834 miles/gallon !
    (Gallon=3,79 litre, mile=1,6km)

    Rules: http://www.shell.com/static/eco-marathon-en/downlo ads/sem_events/nogaro/rules/rules_2006_revised.pdf [shell.com]
  • How about 9023 MPG?? (Score:3, Informative)

    by mambru (224456) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @04:29AM (#15574593)
    Last year at the Shell Eco-marathon [shell.com].

    My university took part this year with very limited money, only undergraduate students working on the project and they achieved around 1200 MPG. Minimum speed for the competition is set at 30 Km/h. The external design is very similar to the one depicted.

    Not that impressive. In the european competition they would have finished at the 20+ position.
  • I can top this... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sydbarrett74 (74307) <{sydbarrett74} {at} {gmail.com}> on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @04:54AM (#15574633)
    I know of a single-occupancy vehicle design that gets an infinite number of miles to the gallon of petrol -- it's called a bicycle.
  • by kozumik (946298) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @05:58AM (#15574721)
    ... but people need to get real about these competitions they have every year.

    Every year American auto makers fund for a pittance several of these types of competitions. The results are always the same: some college kids design a vehicle that weighs practically nothing, runs on solar or such, and is totally impractical. Usually little more than a bicycle or go-cart. This has been going on much the same for decades.

    And every time the results are the same:

    1) US automakers get their names associated with some supposedly high-tech, innovative, and efficient technology as part of a low cost PR campaign in the form of a tiny grant to students.

    2) The media is obligated to cover it as part feel good fluff: see, we're still leading the world in useless technology despite everything being made overseas! Aren't our students bright?!

    3) Said automakers recruit off the various campuses engineers who then proceed to design SUV having absolutely nothing to do with afore mentioned efficient technology.

    4) US makers continue declining.

    S.O.S.

    Wouldn't it be great if these students for once asked "how about granting us money to make something f'ing useful or hiring us to build what we made for a change?"
  • The scoop... (Score:5, Informative)

    by RimfireShooter (749073) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @08:39AM (#15575074)
    Almost all designs have drivers lying on their backs. When I was in college, we were the only team to have a head first design with the front axle (w/2x700mm bicycle tires) above the drivers torso, arms in front, and his feet went on either side of the rear drive wheel. Although there is no express rule prohibiting it, the people running the competition thought our design was unsafe (huhh) and forced us to retire the chassis after 2 years.

    Having driven before I can say that they pick the smallest guy on the team (must ballast up to 150lbs I think) and cram him in. No air flow, hot, loud, and no fun - definitely no DVD player. You burn to get you speed up, then coast. You can run as many times as you want and take the best run, you just have to wait for your rotation.

    As mentioned by previous posters, Briggs is a sponsor so teams are requires to use a Briggs&Stratton engine. Most teams only use the case (required), replace the shell bearings with balls, de stroke it and sleeve it to a smaller displacement (we used a Honda piston & rod), make a new head with overhead valves (the Briggs is an L head). During are first years we used a modified stock ignition and aftermarket carb but by my senior year we had a pretty sweet ECU with fuel injection (we re-calibrated a GM ECU). Most drive trains at the time were chains to a pillow block with a centrifugal clutch. The total engine/chassis weighed like 80lbs.

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