TEDxDelft 2013 | Tram Car Race – We have a winner!

At 14:04  today, a winner of the TEDxDelft motor driven class of the Tram Car Race could be announced, and 20 minutes later, a winner of the manual class.

The first race was between a motorcycle driven tram car, built by eight students at De Haagse Hogeschool, and a diesel generator – motor combination, built by Rolf Hut‘s own team. The motorcycle, as might be expected, did the trick, and the tram car flew away. To his great disappointment, Rolf’s team were not able to finish without a helping hand, after a chain jump short after start. Hard work undoubtedly pays off. “I only slept three hours last night” says the team leader, Mark van der Leer, “Besides some minor hickups, it went as expected”.

As impressive as the first race was, the second one was thrilling, in a slow, thoughtful kind of way. Although the race of a 100 m took nearly 10 minutes, it became clear that nothing can be assumed until the finish line is reached. Early on it looked certain that the “simple is best” approach using a hand-driven wheel would succeed, after the opposing team had problems with jumping chains. Close to finish, however, the other team with the Tram Car Race coordinator Alwin Snel himself as a member, found a way to drive their car without the chain jumping, and went on winning the race. See it for yourself!In under a week, the participating teams managed to build their vehicles. A lot was sacrificed. Besides time and in some cases money, one of the teams was working late the night before the race, outside the University: “They had guns”. Team member Nitish Shah tells the story: “We were working with flash lights on the tram cars, and people started gathering. Somebody must have called the police”. Two police vans showed up with spot lights, thinking a burglary was at hand. Besides a few words, the all Indian team spoke no dutch, and struggled to explain their peaceful intentions. After residence permits had been shown and addresses written down, they were luckily left alone.

In order to make the race possible a lot of help was needed. HTM were able to provide the tram car boogies, Gamma in Delft donated parts for the building and BetaFactory provided space and tools.

One thing we can learn is that motor power does matter, but that simple solutions might surprise you.