Driving Detroit: Pushing the fuel economy envelope
Staking between high rise buildings, a race track has been constructed on the streets of downtown Detroit, but it isn't for the Grand Prix where high powered Indy cars will screen through at breakneck speed.
That happens further down the street about a mile instead this traffic is for something very different the cars lapping at this weekend it gets a little wacky and in most cases appear downright uncomfortable to drive.
This is the shell eco marathons Americas where high school and college students from all over have come to participate in a different kind of racing on the streets of Detroit The winners aren't the teams that cross he finish line first, but the ones that do so in the most fuel efficient manner.
Like in traditional Motorsports, completing the objective here takes bright minds willing to push the boundaries to innovate, a ton of dedication, and teamwork.
That all culminates for the students here in Detroit.
The Shell Eco-marathon is an event we've been doing for the last 30 years, the last 10 years here in Americas and this is our second year in Detroit.
The Shell Eco-marathon is an opportunity for high school and college students to design, build and run their own vehicles on the streets of Detroit to see who can get the best gas mileage The idea to get as much efficiency out of the energies that goes into these cars that they built as possible.>>Student's can choose to build vehicles in one of two categories.
Prototypes which are lower swung often pod like looking contraptions.
Or urban concept vehicles that look more like traditional cars with four wheels Doors, lights and wipers.
Within each category teams can choose from one of seven energy sources including gas, diesel, ethanol, compressed natural gas and natural gas the liquid.
If teams opt for an electric drive train they can build a battery plugin or a hydrogen fuel cell.
We're working on our prototype.
It's an elliptical prototype.
We know that the [UNKNOWN] cars are the closest to the future.
So we start working on them.
We're in the prototype category.
Which means [INAUDIBLE].
It's pretty well.
All the rules are based around just pushing efficiency, whereas Urban Con, I don't know if you can see them over here, they're more about kind of more practical, whereas we're all about pushing the limits.
In urban concept, you have to have everything a normal car would have.
It's more real world, and we get to see all the different things like a normal cars has, it's just headlights and blinkers.
It actually helps us bring in Different types of engineering in other cars that you wouldnt technically see in a prototypes.
The ultimate goal of students is to go the furthest distance on the least amount of energy.
A lot of teams will be looking to achieve in the hundreds of miles per gallon equivalent while some will even be targeting fuel economy thats in the thousand miles per gallon realm in their respective energy category.
Last year was 183 miles per gallon on diesel and we got fourth place in our category.
This year, we're hoping to reach 1,000 miles per gallon mark with our new engine we're hoping to do that, but if not anything better than what we got last year would be great.
We've been working with optimization methods and one of the things we've found is a positive glide
It's more optimal, so getting up to speed and then just kind of letting it coast down to come back into the folds again.
It's not even a U.S.
We've got students here from all over the hemisphere, eight different countries from and South America, Mexico, U.S.
And Canada taking their vehicles that they've built and actually running them on the same streets that Henry Ford tested his quadrocycle on over 100 years ago.
So that's a real opportunity for Detroit to be exposed to students, and students to be exposed to Detroit.
This brings a number of great young people together.
It's a catalyst for engineering, and guess what?
I think it's a fishing pond for companies who want engineers for the future.
I think it's really cool that we get to come to the motor city and have our eco marathon here.
We get to actually drive the streets of Detroit and you get to see all the big named companies around here and you get to meet some of the higher up people at these companies because they come down, they're looking for interns or they're looking for full time employees and it's just good all around to have that experience.
We got 1300 kids here that are really really passionate about engineering, and one of the big challenges for us going forward is to find engineering talents that are going to produce the cars of the future.
So this couldn't be more perfect for us having access to the kids, seeing the products they're working on.
And there's so much synergy between what they're doing and how we develop cars for the future.
As car makers continue to look to improve efficiency of not only traditional gas engines, but also by exploring alternative forms of energy such as electric and hydrogen-fueled cells, Shell is trying to mirror what OEM's are doing with the Eco Marathon.
With fumes pushing the development boundaries in hopes of achieving maximum fuel efficiency.
The competition potentially could be serving as a beta testing ground for solutions to our future transportation needs.
All those carbon fibres, the whole thing, is all built either in house or with our sponsors, working close to them.
But it's entirely new this year.
Once our manufacturer, many stuff, just to make it weight less.
What did we weigh at the last year?
With the engine and the body and everything.
Our driver is heavier than our vehicle.
This year we made a new chassis of the monocoque egg-shaped instead of our honeycomb.
It's made out of carbon fiber.
So I think this is a catalyst for the future.
It's energy, it's innovation, and obviously it's teamwork and that's so important for how you become a winner in life Never grew up thinking to be an engineer.
Now that's what I want to pursue my career in.
Since I was a kid I want to know working on cars.
And America has great engineers and we want to prove our studies, our research and We want to prove our prototype.
We just try our hardest to compete.
We're really here to get some experience in the fields that we want to go in to.
Most of the students here want to be engineers when they grow up and maybe even go to the colleges that are represented.
In the end the University of Laval team from Quebec took home the overall win by achieving two thousand, five hundred and eighty five miles per gallon in its gasoline prototype, while the top urban concept vehicle came from Indiana's Mater Dei high school, with its seven hundred and ninety three mile per gallon result on gas.
Other notable class winners include the shop girls team, who took top honours with a 1115 miles per gallon result in their D Low prototype.
Urban concept vehicles were also competing for an invitation to the first ever shell eco marathon drivers' world championship, being held in London on July 3rd.
There, they will compete against other invitees from Asia and Europe For a chance to spend a week with a Ferrari Formula One team at its Italy headquarters to receive advice from race engineers on how to improve their cars for next years eco marathon.
The [UNKNOWN] Eco Marathon is all about pushing the limits, and that's all we really come here to do.
It's great to be here, and see, like, the GM building over there, and really the heart of the auto industry in North America, probably the world.
It is the capital of mobility.
This is an icon of American innovation history right here in Detroit.
So many things are invented here, Motown music, the automotive assembly line, new forms of industrial relations, architecture.
I mean it's just a great American city.
It's also a city that's fallen on hard times, but now it's coming back.
It's pulling itself back by its bootstraps, we want to be part of that, and we really see Detroit as very much part of the future of automotive innovation as well.
Well, the Shell Eco-marathon means a lot to Detroit because it brings young people here, and also, we have the opportunity to showcase our city.
You'll see cranes, you'll see buildings being built here.
So important to the city, but more important is when these young people leave our city, they're gonna be ambassadors for our city, Detroit, and for the region.
And that's very important to all of us.
In addition to being a platform for highschool and college students to flex their science and engineering muscles, the shell eco marathon also brought in nearly 10,000 Detroit area grade school kids to interact with the teams in hopes of inspiring future competitors and innovators.
Michel's decision to bring the Eco-marathon Americas to Detroit is further proof of the city's resurgence.
And after hearing from students, Detroit remains without question one of the world's automotive Meccas.
And don't be surprised that many of the competitors here end up with an automaker in the not-too-distant future.
Weekend looking for interns and job candidates.
And, if you didn't make it down to this years Eco Marathon in Detroit, then you're in luck because, Shell has already said that it will turn to the motor city in 2017.
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