In the realm of solar electric cars, the yearly World Solar Challenge (WSC) is the most competitive and challenging race in the world, forcing teams to push the limits of their knowledge and technology to build a car that can stand up to the race conditions across 2000 miles of the Outback.
The 2013 entry from the Stanford Solar Car Project, “Luminos“, was just unveiled, and it promises to be a strong contender in this year’s WSC, which will include 47 teams from 26 countries.
According to the team, for this year’s car, there were several major changes, including the move from a three-wheeled to a four-wheeled vehicle and the development of their own custom electric car motors (said to hit 97% efficiency). Their custom solar array uses high-efficiency monocrystalline cells from Sunpower, and has an antireflective layer over it that does double duty as an aerodynamic-enhancing feature.
“Nearly two years of planning, design, fundraising, logistics, building, testing, and dedication have now come together to produce what may be the best characterized and most thoroughly tested vehicle in our project’s history. We challenged ourselves to go back to the drawing board and build a car that was based on sound engineering theory and principles, beautifully straightforward in design and construction, and tested to be the most reliable and efficient vehicle in the history of our team.” – Stanford Solar Car Project
Luminos weighs in at just 375 pounds, can cruise continuously at highway speeds, and generates less than half of the drag force that a cyclist would (said to be about equivalent to that exerted on one square foot of material held up against the wind).
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