travis.typepad.com > U of M Solar Car Museum

This is a brief compilation of photos highlighting the Aurora series (1 thru 4) of solar cars built by the University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project. A more detailed history can be found at the Project's website.

 Aurora Cars

Aurora Cars

The full Holman Building Collection. Clockwise from center foreground: Borealis I, Aurora 2, Aurora 4 and Aurora 3.


Aurora 1

Aurora 1


Aurora 1 > Brakes

Aurora 1 > Brakes

Brake pedal and master cylinder for Aurora 1. Also note the steering column and rack in background.


Aurora 1 > Canopy

Aurora 1 > Canopy

Side view of A1 canopy and front suspension.


Aurora 1 > Cockpit

Aurora 1 > Cockpit

Aurora 1 drivers sat very high and quite upright for a solar car.


Aurora 1 > Front Suspension

Aurora 1 > Front Suspension

Massive all steel double a-arm/trailing arm hybrid suspension for Aurora 1. Note complex steering linkage transmitting from upper right corner through a rotating shaft down to a steering tie rod attached to upright.


Aurora 1 > Front Suspension

Aurora 1 > Front Suspension

Massive steel upright for front suspension. Also not steering linkage at base of upright.


Aurora 1 > Front Suspension Upper Shock Mount

Aurora 1 > Front Suspension Upper Shock Mount

Multiple mounting holes for adjustable ride height.


Aurora 1 > Solar Array

Aurora 1 > Solar Array

Aurora 1 was a "tunnel-style" car, meaning it formed an arch with a large tunnel passing from front to rear down the car. The solar array was unencapsulated silicon cells.


Aurora 2

Aurora 2


Aurora 2 > Brakes & Footwell

Aurora 2 > Brakes & Footwell

Note dead pedal on left. Brake is left foot activated and uses a single master cylinder instead of dual redundant system not required by regulations. also note steering shaft passing above master cylinder into steering rack.


Aurora 2 > Chassis & Shell

Aurora 2 > Chassis & Shell

Aurora 2 was the lightest solar car ever built by the U of M (discounting batteries). This was partially due to the less restrictive regulations, but also due to lightweight simplified design.


Aurora 2 > Front Suspension

Aurora 2 > Front Suspension

Note integrated jig/bracketing for front suspension mounting points.


Aurora 2 > Front Suspension

Aurora 2 > Front Suspension

A2's front suspensions. Note uncoated aluminum brake disc and two-part upright design.


Aurora 2 > Front Suspension

Aurora 2 > Front Suspension

Front suspension from A2, note wire wheels (lighter than NGM), bike tires, and compact a-arm design to allow for rearward battery compartment.


Aurora 2 > Rear Suspension

Aurora 2 > Rear Suspension


Aurora 2 > Rear Suspension

Aurora 2 > Rear Suspension

Welded steel rear swing arm suspension.


Aurora 2 > Rear Suspension

Aurora 2 > Rear Suspension

Rear view of A2 rear suspension.


Aurora 2 > Rear Suspension

Aurora 2 > Rear Suspension

A2's swing arm rear suspension. Note Unique Mobility motor with chain drive. Also, poor design of a-arm mounts using rod-ends in bending.


Aurora 2 > Rollbar

Aurora 2 > Rollbar

Unique rollbar using a double thick fibrelam fiberglass panel braced by a pair of aluminum supports. Note also, integration of rear suspension shock bracket with rollbar supports.


Aurora 2 > Solar Array Reconfigurable Modules

Aurora 2 > Solar Array Reconfigurable Modules

A2 used removable solar cell modules to supplement the array power during stationary charging. These cut out panels also allow access to the underside of the upper array for construction and maintenance.


Aurora 2 > Solar Array Wiring

Aurora 2 > Solar Array Wiring

Very clean underside wiring of Aurora 2 solar array. Large cells and non-removable modules simplifies wiring.


Aurora 2 > Steering Rack

Aurora 2 > Steering Rack


Aurora 3

Aurora 3


Aurora 3 > Body

Aurora 3 > Body


Aurora 3 > Body Opener

Aurora 3 > Body Opener

Aurora 3's automatic body opener powered by a gas charged strut and the driver protective roll bar in the foreground.


Aurora 3 > Body Turn Signals

Aurora 3 > Body Turn Signals

Note very smooth surface integration of turn signal lenses with aerodynamic body shell.


Aurora 3 > Brakes

Aurora 3 > Brakes

Rather elaborate mounting bracket for brake pedal and master cylinder.


Aurora 3 > Canopy

Aurora 3 > Canopy

Note poor fitment of canopy to body shape. Also note this canopy is non removable and is not used for driver egress due to hinged body shell.


Aurora 3 > Chassis & Shell

Aurora 3 > Chassis & Shell

Jason and Mitch check out A3's front suspension system. Aurora 1's silver shell is in the foreground.


Aurora 3 > Fairing System

Aurora 3 > Fairing System

A3 used a rotating aerodynamic filler to block air from entering around the wheels. The filler was turned using a rod connected to the upright.


Aurora 3 > Front Suspension

Aurora 3 > Front Suspension


Aurora 3 > Front Suspension

Aurora 3 > Front Suspension

Note two part upright, shock angle relatively close to horizontal, shock mounted to upright instead of lower a-arm, and the circular rotating aerodynamic filler.


Aurora 3 > Front Suspension

Aurora 3 > Front Suspension

Note mounting of upper and lower a-arm and shock. Also note lever that turns the aerodynamic filler panel with the wheel.


Aurora 3 > Rear Suspension

Aurora 3 > Rear Suspension


Aurora 3 > Rear Suspension

Aurora 3 > Rear Suspension

Double a-arm rear suspension for A3 using a chassis mounted shock.


Aurora 4

Aurora 4


Aurora 4 > Body

Aurora 4 > Body

The last of Minnesota's "wing-style" bubble canopied solar cars. A4 was incredibly thin necessitating an extremely reclined seating position and push-pull steering apparatus.


Aurora 4 > Brake Master Cylinders

Aurora 4 > Brake Master Cylinders

Linkage for brake master cylinders operates each cylinder in opposite direction using 4 bar linkage.


Aurora 4 > Chassis

Aurora 4 > Chassis

Overall view of A4 chassis.


Aurora 4 > Chassis

Aurora 4 > Chassis

A4's chassis introduced the "electrical trunk" behind the driver, also notice automatic shell opening arm powered by a gas charged strut.


Aurora 4 > Chassis

Aurora 4 > Chassis

Front quarter view of chassis. Note orange-board fibrelam composite chassis, push-pull steering, and hinged aero body.


Aurora 4 > Chassis

Aurora 4 > Chassis

Aurora 4's very thin chassis. The side panels house and protect the electronics.


Aurora 4 > Chassis

Aurora 4 > Chassis

Note push-pull steering hardware and brake access hole.


Aurora 4 > Chassis & Body

Aurora 4 > Chassis & Body

Rear view of A4's chassis. Note 4-wheel layout, right rear drive wheel, and very slim body.


Aurora 4 > Front Suspension

Aurora 4 > Front Suspension

Aurora 4 front suspension. Note lightening cuts in upper a-arm, well developed fairings (though unnecessarily aerodynamic inside the body), use of integrated jig/brackets for mounting points.


Aurora 4 > Front Suspension

Aurora 4 > Front Suspension

Note heavy solid hub, coated aluminum brake disc, dual slave brake cylinders, large upright (due to thin body) and strange outward curvature of upright for machineability.


Aurora 4 > Rear Suspension

Aurora 4 > Rear Suspension

A4 rear suspension, note small vertical separation of upper and lower a-arms due to thin profile of car. Also, integral jig/suspension mounting brackets ensuring correct mounted geometry.


Aurora 4 > Rear Suspension

Aurora 4 > Rear Suspension

Right rear suspension, note lower upright bolt is common to shock, lower a-arm, and toe link.


Aurora 4 > Rear Suspension

Aurora 4 > Rear Suspension

Right rear suspension.


»