Western Sydney University Confident in New Solar Car

25 July 2017

The Western Sydney University Solar Car Team has released a trailer video for its new solar-powered vehicle that will compete in the 2017 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia this October.

Details of the as-yet-unnamed vehicle are being kept under wraps until its official launch in August.

“We don’t want to reveal any specific details of the car just yet – as we don’t want to give our competition any advantage," says AJ Verma from the School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics (SCEM). "But rest assured that this year we have refined every minor detail of the car and it will be our best yet.”

Verma, a Bachelor of Engineering graduate, led the Solar Car Project in 2015 and is now a SCEM staff member supporting the 2017 team. He says the team is in a race against time to finish building the solar car and get it to Darwin.

“We used the massive industrial ovens at Innovation Composites to dry and set the car’s carbon fibre body," he says. "The team travelled to Nowra this week to fit the wheels and suspension to the vehicle, so that its transportation to our Penrith campus lab would run as smoothly as possible. We have just shy of 80 days, and in that time the solar car team will be working round the clock, sleeping in the lab and working in shifts to get the vehicle ready.”

2017 marks the third time that Western Sydney University has participated in the biennial challenge, which involves a 3000 km drive from Darwin to Adelaide using only solar power. In 2013, Western Sydney’s inaugural year, challenging weather conditions and mechanical issues led to the original vehicle, ‘SolAce,’ being towed for a short time on the road to Adelaide. Despite this, the team finished in the top half of its class. In 2015, the team ramped up its efforts and its increasing skill and confidence was evident in the design of its second vehicle. ‘UNLIMITED’ crashed after a suspension failure but was speedily repaired and crossed the finishing line in tenth place out of 43 teams out on the field. In 2017, Verma says the team is in a very competitive position, and is very positive about its chances this year.

“In 2013, SolAce had a max speed of 110 km per hour, and weighed 300 kg," he says. "In 2015, UNLIMITED had a max speed of 129 km per hour, and weighed 170 kg. In each outing, the car has evolved. This time, we've worked to improve every aspect at a fundamental level to create a more cohesive package – every detail counts, every single gram, and the result will be the most efficient car we've ever made.”

The 22 member solar car team is comprised of Western Sydney University students from the fields of engineering, industrial design and visual communications.

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