WWU X Prize Team will move on to finals in July

Matthew Anderson
University Communications

The Western Washington University X Prize team has officially passed all of the tests in the knockout round of the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize competition, WWU faculty team leader Eric Leonhardt announced this morning. The team will advance to the finals round of the competition, which begins July 19 at Michigan International Speedway in Detroit.

"I do not know how many competitors are left, but a few were knocked out yesterday during emissions and 0-60 testing, including one of three eligible for the $5 million purse in the four passenger class," Leonhardt said via e-mail this morning. "This is a good day for Western and the VRI."

A look at the updated standings shows that 16 vehicles from 12 teams are currently in the running, with one team (OptaMotive) still awaiting results of an appeal. One of the teams recently eliminated was Future Vehicle Technologies, from up the road in British Columbia. Still in the competition is another Northwest team, Commuter Cars from Spokane.

This morning and yesterday, the WWU team passes a series of safety and emissions tests.

"I think we were the cleanest internal combustion engine car," Leonhardt said. Official results on the emissions testing have not yet been released.

Safety testing included a 0-to-60-mph acceleration test, a 60-to-0-mph braking test, a lateral acceleration ("skidpad") test, a 40-to-65-mph highway acceleration test and an accident avoidance (emergency lane chance maneuver) test.

Last week, the team successfully passed several efficiency and range tests, achieving the equivalent of 82 miles per gallon (after penalties) in city, urban and highway driving. The vehicle also completed the required 68-mile range test. Results of those tests for all vehicles are available online here.

Leonhardt said that some of the team will be headed to Connecticut to work with an expert on the vehicle's Honda Insight drivetrain.

"Our Insight system may not be functioning properly, and we will need it for the finals," Leonhardt said. "The expert has offered to help, so we will travel there for this week."

The crew also will be adding some emissions equipment to the vehicle, stepping it up to meet Tier 2 Bin 8 emissions requirements, Leonhardt said. Viking 45 will stay back east until the finals.

Finals testing includes a quick repeat of the static and dynamic safety checks, followed by a series of scored on-track challenges and a final "coast down" exercise to gain key performance information about the aerodynamics and rolling resistance to properly prepare the vehicles for the validation stage. Speed will be important, and a maximum and minimum time for events will be established.

Leonhardt said that the road to get where the VRI is today has been long and difficult, from fundraising to contracts to actually building the car.

The result thus far, however, has been worth it.

"We have succeeded," Leonhardt said.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010 - 11:01am
Brent Wise, student team leader of the Western Washington University X Prize Team, is all smiles as he climbs out of Viking 45 during Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize efficiency testing in Detroit. WWU has passed the knockout round and will be in

Brent Wise, student team leader of the Western Washington University X Prize Team, is all smiles as he climbs out of Viking 45 during Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize efficiency testing in Detroit. WWU has passed the knockout round and will be in

Eric Leonhardt

Eric Leonhardt