Stanford University unveiled its wing-shaped, 55 mph World Solar Challenge racer recently, fixing its sights squarely on the Eindhoven University’s four-passenger Stella and Cambridge University’s Resolution solar racers. “This year’s aim is to ‘break even’ on energy,” says Stanford team member Matthew Matera.
Breaking even on energy would help to close the gap between the solar racers and road-going electric cars, which are (for the moment) far removed from each other. Closing that gap, however, is one of the goals of several rules changes made to this year’s World Solar Challenge, which led to the four-passenger Stella. To that end, Stanford’s team has built a car that is more “robust” than the flyweight solar racers of the past, while still keeping weight and aerodynamic drag to a minimum. “We still try to be competitive and advance the technology in trying to make an efficient, fast vehicle,” explains team-leader Wesley Ford.
For my part, I think the Stella team from Eindhoven is the only WSC competitor, so far, to offer a solar car design that might have some Sunswift-style, real-world applications – but it has to survive the race, too, so maybe stanford is on to something? We’ll all find out soon enough, though – the 2013 World Solar Challenge is happening October 6-13.
Source | Photos: Stanford, via Green Car Reports.