British teardrop shaped car to enter World Solar Challenge

An unusual new design for a solar-powered car has been unveiled by a group of Cambridge University students.

Most solar cars have a relatively flat, wide shape to maximise the surface area for solar panels, but the Cambridge team hoping to become the first British winners of the World Solar Challenge have instead opted for a more aerodynamic teardrop design fitted with panels that move to follow the sun.

The prototype car, named “Resolution”, is being unveiled today in a road test at Millbrook Proving Ground, near Bedford, in advance of the World Solar Challenge in October, when 47 teams from 26 countries are due to race 3,000km across Australia from Darwin in the north to Adelaide in the south.

Keno Mario-Ghae, team manager for the Cambridge University Eco-Racing team that includes 60 students, said in a statement, ‘Resolution is different because she overcomes one of the main limitations that affect most solar cars.

‘Traditionally, the entire structure of a solar car has been based on a trade-off between aerodynamic performance and solar performance. That’s how they’ve been designed for the past 10 years, and that’s why they all tend to look the same.

‘We turned the concept on its head. Our reasoning is that solar performance needs to adapt to the movement of the sun, but the car needs a fixed shape to be at its most aerodynamic. To make the car as fast and powerful as possible, we needed to find a way to separate the two ideas out, rather than find a compromise between them.’

The team embedded the solar panels within an aft-facing tracking plate that follows the sun’s trajectory and moves the panels so they are optimally positioned at all times. They estimate this will give the car a power boost of 20 per cent.
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July 8, 2013



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