As the day to the beginning of the World Solar Challenge this October draws near, an increasing number of college teams competing in the 3000 km (1864 mile) race across Australia are unveiling their entries. The latest showcasing we’ve become aware of heralds from the University of New South Wales (UNSW), marking it as one of the home continent favorites.
The Sunswift team revealed yesterday eVe, its entry that heralds from a legacy operation that’s been taking part in Challenge races since 1996. This new solar racer is the fifth generation vehicle from students at this university. Departing from their solo driver designs of the past, its builders said,
the new UNSW car more closely resembles a conventional sports car, featuring two doors, four wheels and room for a passenger. It has solar panels on its hood and roof, and a yellow-racing stripe along the side.
eVe was built in a different configuration, not only to create a more “human-friendly” vehicle, but in part as well because the team “is competing in a different class, where the object is less about the speedometer, and more about practicality. It’s a requirement that cars carry both a driver and a passenger.” Sunswift is not the only team doing such changes, but in part what may make them unique among their peers is the fact they turned to crowd funding to help them in covering costs.
The team said it “raised more than $27,000 through a Pozible crowd funding campaign earlier this year,” and extra money collected through this method “will help them compete against teams with bigger budgets from universities such as MIT and Stanford.”
Sunswift, even without the money raised from this campaign, already has the chops to take on the larger schools and come out on top. In 2011, for example, its fourth generation car set a world record, becoming the fastest solar-powered vehicle at the time by reaching a top speed of 88 km/hour. It was the team’s second world record.
“We wanted to create the sort of car you could drive anywhere,” said UNSW mechanical engineering student Sam Paterson, the project manager, in a statement, “all while keeping the design cool and producing zero emissions. We think this car is a symbol for a new era of sustainable driving in Australia.”