Solar cars head to start line for World Solar Challenge

Cutting edge solar cars from around the world are assembling in Darwin for the 2023 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge (BWSC) which will test entrants, including from Geelong’s Deakin University, over the grueling 3,000 kilometre race.

The Deakin ASCEND team is the only Victorian entry, alongside 41 other teams from 23 countries in the event which runs from October 22 to 29.

The event aims to push the limits of technological innovation while travelling through the Australian outback in a vehicle powered only by the energy of the sun.

It is the first time Deakin has participated, with its ASCEND team entered in the Cruiser Class, whose cars must be practical, seat a minimum of two people and manage their energy requirements while meeting strict time targets.

During the event they will be part of experiments conducted by Australia’s peak scientific body CSIRO, measuring the impact of electric vehicles on the electricity supply network.

Once in Adelaide Cruiser Class teams present their cars to a panel of judges who will award a ‘practicality’ score, emulating the real-world problem industrial designers face every day.

Head of Deakin’s School of Engineering Professor Ben Horan said: “Participating in the BWSC is an opportunity to showcase Deakin’s strengths in sustainable innovation through additive manufacturing, engineering design and product development, and to provide exceptional learning experiences.

“Since 2019, the ASCEND Solar Car Project has engaged more than 1,000 students, representing disciplines from mechanical, electrical and aerodynamics engineering to information technology, business, marketing, and communication. Participation in this real-world project gives students hands-on experience and an embedded knowledge of how the industry works.”

Deakin University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Iain Martin farewelled 14 students and six staff from the School of Engineering as they set off to take part in the solar challenge.

In wishing the team well, Professor Martin said: “This is exactly the kind of project that aligns with Deakin’s values and commitment to sustainability and energy.”

Deakin has set the goal of carbon neutrality by 2025 and being carbon negative by 2030.

Professor Martin said the challenge comes at a time when Australia desperately needs more engineers.

“Australia will be an estimated 50,000 engineers short by 2030.

“There is no more important time than now to undertake such a challenge that inspires and challenges the next generation of engineers. We couldn’t be prouder to see our Deakin team on the world stage.”

ASCEND = ACCIONA Solar Car Engineered by Deakin

Overall length (m) = 4.93 M
Overall width (m) = 2.0 M
Overall height (m) = 1.29 M
Ride Height = 200 mm
Wheelbase = 2.86 M
Weight (kg) = 700kg
Cruising Speed = 80 km/h
Top Speed = 130 km/h
Battery Capacity = 60kW/h
Torque = 200 Mn

Picture: Deakin University

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