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World’s First Solar-Powered Family Car

World’s First Solar-Powered Family Car

Image source: solarteameindhoven.nl

What’s being hailed as the first “energy-positive car”, and the first solar-powered family car, has been designed by a team of students at Eindhoven University of Technology and will be trialed in the 2013 World Solar Challenge in October of this year.

The car, dubbed “Stella”, has room for four people, trunk space, a touchscreen interface and intuitive steering, and is said to have a range of 600 km. Stella has an aerodynamic design and lightweight body and frame, which yields a very efficient car, and will be entered in the Cruiser class for the upcoming solar road race.

According to the team, the solar cells of the car would generate more electricity than the car uses (on average, in a typical driving situation), which means that any surplus electricity could be returned to the power grid, in essence becoming an “energy-positive” electric vehicle. Right now, though, the team is working to optimize their current model in order to be able to take on the challenging conditions of a 3000 km solar car trial.

The World Solar Challenge, which goes across Australia from Darwin to Adelaide on the Stuart Highway, will be a crucial testing ground for the car. During the race, the team will only have three opportunities to recharge their battery, so one of their big challenges is be able to hit a range of at least 750 km per charge in order to finish the race.

The student’s car features a number of innovations, including high-yield solar cells, a ‘smarter’ driving strategy that can factor in all available information (weather, road, traffic conditions) and determine the optimal cruising speed. Stella also features a modular electric network:

“The network in the car will be an open development. A system will be created in which all components will be exchangeable and are recognized by the car. This change will be taken into account in the driving strategy, energy management and communication with the driver. This will provide a solid foundation for follow-up research for the next solar car.” – Solar Team Eindhoven

Find out more at Solar Team Eindhoven.

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