Western Sydney University is sending its Solar Car Team to the other side of the globe – as the first Australian team to ever compete in the American Solar Challenge (ASC).
The ASC is a competition for college level teams to design, build and drive solar-powered cars, and compete in a 1700 mile (2735 km) race across North America.
The Western Sydney University Solar Car Team is well equipped for the challenge – having recently competed in a 3,000km trek from Darwin to Adelaide as part of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge (BWSC) in October 2017.
Project Lead Saami Bashar says the ASC is a very different competition to the BWSC.
“While the World Solar Challenge focused on ultimate speed and efficiency, the American Challenge is more about testing the capabilities of the cars in a variety of real world driving conditions,” says Saami.
“In this competition, we are preparing for more than 10 days of racing. There will be staged, overnight stops every second day, and a mix of city and highway driving on public roads. Our team is used to continuous driving at speed, so that will be quite an adjustment.”
Saami says the Western team’s vehicle, UNLIMITED 2.0, was built specifically for the World Solar Challenge – and requires a number of modifications to suit American specifications.
“This year, our fans will notice an obvious addition to UNLIMITED 2.0. We jokingly call it ‘the wart,’ because it looks like a big round bulge on the side of our otherwise sleek and streamlined, aerodynamic vehicle. While it’s not the most attractive addition, it’s necessary to meet the safety requirements of the American Challenge.”
The Western Sydney team are expected to be top contenders in the ASC, due to the professionalism and know-how developed while competing at an international level at three biennial World Solar Car challenges (2013, 2015 and 2017).
“We will be up against some really tough competition on the course, but we’re up to the challenge, and are definitely looking forward to taking on the Americans on their own turf,” says Saami.
At Western Sydney University, the Solar Car Team is a student-led project. The team is comprised of students from the fields of Engineering, Industrial Design and Visual Communications, who manage every aspect of the production and design of the vehicle as well as sponsorships, marketing and the administrative elements of their involvement in challenges. The team is supported by the University’s School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics (SCEM)