Epic world solar car race begins in Australia

2017-10-08 20:00
The driver of SA’s NWU Solar vehicle Naledi gets out of the car at a control stop during the World Solar Challenge across Australia. (Mark Kolbe, World Solar Challenge, AFP)

The driver of SA’s NWU Solar vehicle Naledi gets out of the car at a control stop during the World Solar Challenge across Australia. (Mark Kolbe, World Solar Challenge, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Sydney - An epic 3 000km solar car race across the desert heart of Australia designed to showcase new technology that could one day help develop commercial vehicles got underway on Sunday.

The World Solar Challenge, first run in 1987 and last held in 2015, began in a high-tech, futuristic flurry from Darwin's State Square.

Innovation challenges

Dutch team Nuon is aiming to defend its title but Belgium's Punch Powertrain led the 41 cars - powered by the sun and mostly developed by universities or corporations - off on the punishing journey south to Adelaide after a surprise win in Saturday's time trial.

"We knew our car was good but we never expected pole because there are a lot of competitors over here...a lot of very fast looking cars," team manager Joachin Verheyen told reporters.

The event has become one of the world's foremost innovation challenges with teams looking to demonstrate designs that could one day lead to commercially available solar-powered vehicles for passengers.

Google co-founder Larry Page and Tesla co-founder JB Straubel are past competitors who credit the event in influencing their careers.

The main action will be the streamlined Challenger class - slick, single seat aerodynamic vehicles built for sustained endurance and total energy efficiency.

Develop technology

Dutch team Nuon crossed the finish line first two years ago, taking 33.03 hours to make the punishing trip ahead of Japan's Tokai University, the 2011 winner, in a nail-biting climax.

Both teams are again in the hunt this year, with cars from the United States, Australia, Malaysia, India and South Africa among competitors up against them.

There is also a Cruiser class which aims to showcase solar technology for mainstream vehicles that are more practical for day-to-day use.

Entrants come from Hong Kong, Singapore and even Iran.

"Of course, the point of this challenge is not just to go fast, or to develop technology that will never reach the mainstream," said event director Chris Selwood.

Adjusting tyre pressure

"Our founder, Hans Tholstrup, and competitors past and present, are all determined to make sustainable, energy positive, solar electric cars and renewable technology a reality".

Teams are allowed to store a small amount of energy but the majority of their power has to come from the sun and their vehicle's kinetic forces.

Crews are allowed to drive between 08:00 and 17:00 each day and simply set up camp wherever their car pulls off the road at the end of the day. The first car to cross the line in Adelaide is the winner.

There are seven checkpoints along the route where drivers can get updates on their standings, the weather and do basic maintenance - clearing any debris from the car and adjusting tyre pressure.


Read more on:    australia  |  solar energy

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/Africa
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.