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Britain In World Solar Challenge

Every two years the World Solar Challenge takes place in Australia during which solar powered cars race against one another. The event covers a stretch of road running from Darwin that is located in the north of the country to Adelaide that is situated in the south.

Some entrants of a World Solar Challenge
(image credit: alexhealing)

The race is to take place in October 2013 with 26 countries being represented by 47 teams who will make the 3,000 km journey.

This year, a group of 60 students from Cambridge University, that make up the university’s eco-racing team, will be driving a solar powered car that has been called “Resolution”. It is a little different in shape than you would normally expect to find with such cars. Over the last 10 years, cars powered by solar panels have had rather a flat looking appearance and have been quite wide but that cannot be said of this one.

The look of the car is a bit like a teardrop providing an aerodynamic shape so it is hoped that this will improve its chance of success in the race. Interestingly, the solar panels will be able to move so that they can follow the path of the sun.

It was the view of the Cambridge University eco-racing team that they needed to come up with something different and this they have been able to do. They have incorporated the solar panelling within a tracking plate that is facing the rear of the car and it is located beneath a canopy. As the solar panels move they will always be perfectly positioned. Interestingly, it is estimated that the car’s performance could increase by as much as 20%.

The vehicle is fairly light at 120kg and is capable of reaching a commendable 87mph. It has cruise control and a system that will provide guidance as to its efficiency.
Cambridge University has entered the race on two previous occasions – in 2009 when it came 14th out of 26 entrants and in 2011 when the race was faced with bad weather and fires in the bush resulting in only seven teams completing the race.

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