Vehicle Prototype Endurance Test
Written by Tom Nugent on Monday, July 14th, 2008
Our vehicle group recently performed a battery-powered endurance test of our prototype vehicle drive sub-system on our upgraded treadmill to see how it would perform over long distances. We’re not releasing exact details just yet, but suffice it to say that the test exceeded the speed and distance requirements set by the Spaceward Foundation for the full $2 million NASA-sponsored prize for this year’s Power Beaming Challenge. According to the rules of the competition, the winning entry must power a vehicle up (and back down) a steel cable a vertical distance of 1 km at a minimum speed of 5 m/s using only power beamed from a station on the ground. Here’s a video of parts of the test:
As you can see, the drive system is very robust, having run for quite a long time at a high speed. We’re working to improve the drive system by making it lighter and more efficient, but as it stands right now we have a drive system we could use today. It’s an important milestone to have reached because of the entirely different nature of this year’s steel cable from last year’s flat ribbon.
We are, of course, building and testing the other sub-systems as well. A video showing a voltmeter measuring output of a photovoltaic array is probably not nearly as exciting to watch as one of the drive system, but we’ll see what we can post as we get other results.
UPDATE: We have issued a press release about the endurance test.