(Credit: MIT Solar Electric Vehicle Team)
What a beauty!
Meet Eleanor: suave and smooth, alluring to the hilt like a hot knock-‘em-dead gorgeous babe, solar-powered, riding on three wheels, and harrumphs with no turning back faster than a careering gazelle at 90 miles per hour. She’ll leave you breathless. And more.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Solar Electric Vehicle Team, after four years , comes up with their first solar-powered car , set to outzoom its competitors in the upcoming 10th World Solar Challenge . a seven-day race across nearly 2,000 miles of Australian outback .
And the team, composed of mostly MIT young undergraduates and freshmen, is unfazed, even with the Dutch Nuon Solar Team dominating the World Solar Challenge for four consecutive years from 2005 to 2008.
With a measly $250,000 budget scrounged from additional sponsors this year which is reportedly a tenth of the top teams’ budget ( after being absent from the 2007 race due to dwindling funds) , the youthful bunch’s spokesperson Alexander Hayman said that even with less money meaning less-efficient solar cells, they are making a go of the 2009 World Solar Challenge.
Cnet.com reviews the solar beauty, as sourced from Wired Magazine:
“Eleanor is low slung, highly aerodynamic, and covered by 6 square meters of silicon solar cells that generate 1,200 watts of electricity. Onboard the car is a 6kWh lithium ion battery pack that stores enough power to travel from New York to Boston without the sun, or about 250 miles at around 55 mph. But on a sunny day, the solar car can run nonstop at a cruising speed of 55 mph, and calculations show that it can reach 90 mph.”
From the WSC organizers, the stage is set for the race daredevils out to out-vrrrrrooom one another and jostle their way with the fastest time possible all the way to the finish line.
“2009 World Solar Challenge is the ultimate challenge in sustainable energy.”
“The Challenge: Design and build a car capable of crossing the vast and imposing continent of Australia using only sunlight as fuel and to prove it, in the spirit of friendly competition against others with the same goal.”
“Inspired by adventure and fuelled by the spirit of friendly competition, the event attracts teams from corporations, research and educational institutions around the world.”
“The World Solar Challenge is managed by the multi award winning South Australian Motor Sport Board.”
And the main man who started it all?
Meet solar pioneer Hans Tholstrup, establishing the World Solar Challenge with his "Quiet Achiever" -- a home-built solar car which he drove across Australia from west to east in 1982.
"Inaugurated in 1987, the World Solar Challenge showcases the development of advanced automotive technology and promotes alternatives to conventional automobiles."
Meantime, the 2009 World Solar Challenge regulations are as follows:
- Vehicle propulsion may be derived only from direct solar radiation.
- Vehicles must fit within a box of the following dimensions: 5 meters in length, 1.8 meters in width, and 1.6 meters in height. (Current regulations stipulate that solar arrays can have an area of no more than 6 square meters.)
- The event is conducted between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily, with teams setting up camp in the desert wherever they finish their day.
While the MIT neophytes haven’t had any WSC victory yet, the group breaks records for having the fastest American solar-powered vehicle in the said race -- faster than vehicles of other challengers from University of Michigan, Stanford University, University of Minnesota, and Principia College.
Step aside. Eleanor’s trailblazing feat happens autumn time, this October 2009.