The new regulations for the 2013 World Solar Challenge are out and the UNSW Solar Car Team, Sunswift, is gearing up for a big race. The World Solar Challenge is a solar car race held in Australia in October biennially. Competitors from Universities all over the world race the 3000 kilometres between Darwin and Adelaide in custom-built solar powered cars.
The new regulations have brought in a lot of changes, including changing the number of wheels each solar car must have from three to four as well as including two new Classes. This means that most teams that want to compete must totally rebuild, but our project manager Sam Paterson is unfazed.
“The new regulations are really exciting,” Says Sam. The Sunswift solar car team placed first in the Production Class of the 2011 race, and they are also the current Guinness World Record holders for the world’s fastest solar powered vehicle.
Sam is confident of the team’s abilities. There are some exciting sketches happening and good ideas flowing, but the team is only in the planning stages of the competition so far.
“We are students and this is a learning process,” Says Sam, who is himself a two-time World Solar Challenge veteran. He believes if we do the basics right the rest will follow. With the team’s competition and world record history, Paterson believes winning is within the team’s sights.
The inclusion of two new classes, Cruiser Class and Evolution Class means that teams without the million dollar budgets are in with more of a chance.
“There is a lot of scope to play with some different ideas,” Says Paterson. “Hopefully all the teams show up with different ideas and shapes, because there is no proven formula.”
The new Cruiser Class focuses on vehicle practicality, and by requiring at least two passengers it is aimed at teams who wish to create more people friendly cars. The new Evolution Class is designed for teams who have sustainability in mind, with the focus on reducing environmental impact.
The purpose of the race is to “stimulate research into and development of sustainable transport”, according to the 2013 World Solar Challenge regulations.