Last updated September 3, 2019 at 11:57 am
Teams from around the world are making final preparations to their solar racers before the World Solar Challenge across Australia.
The shimmering red vehicle above is not the spacecraft it looks like, but rather UNLIMITED 3.0, one of Australia’s most advanced solar race cars. It will compete in the 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, a brutal 3,000km race across rugged outback terrain from Darwin to Adelaide.
It’s a long trek and UNLIMITED 3.0 is going to do it using the same amount of energy as a household kettle.
Over 30,000 hours of work to beat the world
Team Manager and engineering student, Max Mammone, says the team is incredibly proud of the car they have built almost entirely on campus — from its custom carbon fibre shell through to its bespoke battery pack.
“Together, the team put in over 30,000 gruelling hours to design, build and perfect the new car in time for this year’s challenge. By bringing the production in-house we have been able to push the boundaries of sustainable design even further,” says Mammone.
“UNLIMITED 3.0 is aerodynamically optimised with highly efficient solar cells that will power the entire 3,000km journey using the same amount of energy as a household kettle,” he explains.
“The unveiling of UNLIMITED 3.0 is a testament to the ingenuity and dedication of the Solar Car Team and reflects Western Sydney University’s commitment to providing real-world learning opportunities in STEM.”
From underdog to genuine World Solar Challenge contender
The World Solar Challenge is a bi-annual international race. The race sees teams of tertiary and secondary students from across 30 counties travel the outback in a vehicle powered only by the sun.
This year marks the fourth time the Western Sydney University team will compete in the Challenger Class. This is the most competitive class requiring teams to produce a high-quality single-seat car built for sustained endurance and energy efficiency.
Bridgestone World Solar Challenge Event Director, Chris Selwood AM, says it was exciting to see how far the team has come since its inaugural bid in 2013.
In 2018, the team was the first non-American team to win the American Solar Challenge, a race of 2,837km from Nebraska to Oregon.
“From very humble beginnings, this team has gone from Australian underdog to genuine contender and is one of the spearheads of this year’s Australian charge,” he says.
“Western Sydney University’s considerable investment in home-grown Australian green-tech innovation and young talent is to be commended,” says Selwood.