Meet EVA — the latest racing car. EVA has an elegant shape, with aerodynamics worthy of any of the cars which race in Formula One. The difference is that EVA is solar powered.
EVA is the vehicle produced by the Cambridge University Eco Racing group — a network of 60 students centred on the Department of Engineering who, over several years, have designed and built a vehicle which is now ready to race 3,000km across Australia from Darwin to Adelaide in the World Solar Challenge. The Challenge was established in the 80s by the solar pioneers Hans Tholstrup and Larry Perkins and over time has attracted a range of participants from across the world, mostly from universities. For five or six days, the cars will drive until 5pm when the teams, who have to be completely self-sufficient, make camp wherever they happen to be.
Here’s a clip from the 205 race:
So, wondering how fast solar powered cars can really go? Well, in 2011 a group from UNSW got their car ‘Sunswift’ up to 90km/h without any stored energy (battery) systems. So the power driving the wheels was directly from the sunlight hitting the panels at the time. In 2011 that was a Guiness World Record. However EVA from Cambridge has a theoretical top speed of 90 MILES per hour. The Guiness World Record has to be performed under observation, over two opposite direction runs within an hour, so perhaps once the Solar Challenge is over EVA’s focus will be on that speed record.