The World Solar Challenge is a competition that tests the skills of both solar and non-solar electric powered cars.
Taking place every other year, participants from around the globe partake in a race, with a 3000-kilometer route descending from Australia’s northern territory to its southern city of Adelaide.
Beyond the excitement this event fosters, the route serves as a fertile testing ground where these energy-efficient trailblazers can endure real to life driving conditions.
This year’s race will mark the introduction of four separate vehicle classes for which a car may qualify. Different classes will be evaluated on their speed, external energy use, practicality, and amount of payload carried.
The first, Challenger Class Solar EVs, are vehicles designed for efficiency rather than practicality and hold only a single passenger. You probably wouldn’t want to ride in these long-distance, but they would get you to your destination with minimal environmental impact.
Cruiser Class Solar Evs make up the second class. Vehicles of this class are more practical, and can accommodate two forward-facing passengers.
The Adventure Class is for entry level teams campaigning solar EVs that don’t meet the requirements for the Challenger Class.
Lastly, then, is the Evolution Class. Vehicles of this class have been conceived with the intentions of operating with a greatly reduced environmental impact, but do not qualify for solar EV classes.
With a variety of designs, some appearing like flying saucers that skim over the pavement, others sleek and sporty, it is a spectacle worthy of entrancement as other-worldly shuttles glide past at dozens of miles per hour. By no means are these NASCAR speeds, but they are considerable achievements for cars whose “engines” are nourished by the sun, the harnessing of which is continually being perfected. Vehicles will be allotted 5kW of stored energy, otherwise, all cars must be powered by solar or kinetic energy only.
Races will begin on October 6th in Darwin, Australia and finish in Adelaide, Australia on October 13, covering 3000-km, or 1864 miles.
The route includes seven mandatory checkpoints, where teams will be allowed to perform only the most basic and necessary maintenance. These checkpoints will also serve as time to change observers.
The last two competitions brought back to back victories for the “Tokai Challenger” of Japan’s Tokai University, with averages speeds at 91.54 and 100 kilometers per hour, respectively.
With a diverse collection of teams, many from prestigious universities, who knows what champions this year will create.
Regardless of who wins, we are clearly all beneficiaries from this showcase of innovation.
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