World Solar Car Challenge
On Friday 13 October 30 Darwin High School Stage 1 C4E and Specialist Mathematics students and 2 staff visited Hidden Valley for the world solar car challenge.
By C4E students Monishi Rangchak Tripura, Mohammad Niyaz Hasan, and Naomi Jia
The year 11 C4E and Specialist Mathematics classes of Darwin High School were granted the privilege of a ‘behind-the-scenes' tour of the BRIDGESTONE World Solar Challenge, a race consisting of engineers gathered from all over the world to compete in building a solar car capable of travelling from Darwin to Adelaide the fastest. The group of 30 students had the opportunity to interact with teams from Europe, America, Asia, and Australia. We were able to get a first-hand look into the amount of time, dedication and resources required to compete in the race, learning things such as how creating an efficient car design could take up to 1 to 2 years, and building the car itself, up to another 2 years. It was an interesting experience that helped us gain a practical understanding of the applications of important mathematical and scientific concepts.
Interviewing strategists from teams such as Brunell, Top Dutch and the University of Michigan revealed considered variables such as solar irradiance, road quality and photovoltaic efficiency. It was also found these team strategies had created complex run plans with the use of supercomputers, which would run the event through a variety of scenarios while accounting for the variables listed above.
Interviewing the structural and mechanical engineers from the University of New South Wales team revealed that they had used simple geometric shapes to arrange their inner structure through complex modelling, which would provide the maximum safety, lowest costs, and lightest weight. These improvements led to their car being one of the lightest across the pitlane while being in the Cruiser category, they justified that this improvement would lead to them being one of the fastest in their class and would aid them in their goal to reach Adelaide first.
Noah from Switzerland’s Aletsch team stated that the process of building a solar car required a total of 45 people, of which only 25 came to Australia to compete. The project’s expenses lied within “mid-six figures”, half of which was the “cost of transporting the car”. Though the project included 45 individuals, a core team of 9 people were assigned to work “twelve hours a day for seven days a week” for the car to be built in one year. The solar car was said to be able to reach a speed of 100kh/h.
It was an amazing experience to meet and talk to new people from diverse cultures and backgrounds, and it was interesting seeing each team’s unique and well-crafted racing vehicles. We wish every team good luck, and best wishes for the race.
We would also like to sincerely thank the Wakayama University Solar Car Team for their invitation to our class to visit their car and provide a ‘behind-the-scenes' tour of the World Solar Challenge.