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Photos: Solar 'raycing' stuck in the clouds

Solar cars raycing in the North American Solar Challenge found clouds and rain to be more of a hazard than traffic and potholes.
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By Bill Detwiler on
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1 of 7 Bill Detwiler/ZDNet

Stuck in clouds and rain

Solar cars "raycing" in the North American Solar Challenge found clouds and rain to be more of a hazard than traffic and potholes. The U.S. Department of Energy is the main sponsor of this 2,500-mile race from Austin, Tex., to the finish in Calgary, Alberta, on July 27. Cars are powered only by sunshine.
Here, the University of Michigan team loses its lead near Burlington, Kan., after heavy rains and clouds force team members to stop and recharge their car's batteries.
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2 of 7 Bill Detwiler/ZDNet

MIT

The team from MIT took the lead by driving slower and conserving energy as the clouds and rain darkened the sky. The team is currently in third place after 1,633 miles. Cars are tracked by wireless GPS devices. Their progress can be followed on the solar raycing site.

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3 of 7 Bill Detwiler/ZDNet

Crossing the border

Raycers crossed the Canadian border on Thursday--and were subject to the same border check endured by drivers of conventional vehicles. Driver Huy Le of the University of Waterloo is questioned by Canadian Border Service Officer Lauren Lange. The route runs through Canada for the first time, further spreading the news about solar energy's potential.

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Spreading the word

University of Minnesota driver John Wanner tells an audience in Falls Park, S.D., about the technology used in his solar car. His team is the current leader in the open division as it heads into the final stretch. The open division allows teams to use batteries of their choice. Its counterpart, the stock division, uses lead-acid batteries and solar cells approved by the NASC.

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5 of 7 Bill Detwiler/ZDNet

Pit stop on the go

Students from the University of Kansas work on their car in Weatherford, Tex., early in the race. The U.S. Department of Energy, the main sponsor of this biannual event, seeks to bolster national security by promoting renewable energy sources and energy-efficient technologies.

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Recharging for the next day

The defending champions, from the University of Missouri-Rolla, prepare to camp out in the Wal-Mart parking lot.

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Cruising

Stanford University's car approaches Omaha, Neb. The Stanford team is in second place in the stock division, behind University of California, Berkeley's CalSol team. Stanford and other schools also are making robot racers for the race later this year that will be sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Click here for previous coverage of the North American Solar Challenge.

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