The Solar Team Eindhoven (STE) at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), Netherlands, presented the world’s first solar-powered family car. “Stella” is the first “energy-positive car” with enough room for four people, a trunk, intuitive steering and a range of 600 kilometers (approx. 370 miles). This is the car being entered by the student team in the Cruiser class of the World Solar Challenge that starts in Australia in October 2013.
The solar cells of “Stella”—Latin for star—generate more electricity on average than the car uses and that means that the surplus electricity can be returned to the power grid, thereby making the car “energy-positive.”
The team has set the goal to develop the car of the future. By combining aerodynamic design with lightweight materials like carbon and aluminum the team was able to make the car extremely energy efficient. Among other technologies used in this car one may find a LED strip and a touchscreen that makes all the buttons and knobs we know today superfluous. The steering wheel that can expand or contract indicating that the car moves too fast or too slow makes the driving process intuitive. STE is going to certify the car officially for road use to prove that this is a fully-functional model valid for practical use.
University teams from all over the world will be competing in a 3,000 km (approx. 1864 miles) long race through the Australian outback. Solar Team Eindhoven is competing in the Cruiser class in which the emphasis lies on cars being practical and user-friendly rather than fast. The solar race will take place from 6 to 13 October 2013. Back in the Netherlands there will be a tour of high schools to promote engineering and science education.
Thanks to Solar Team Eindhoven entry, TU/e is represented for the first time in the Solar World Challenge. A multidisciplinary team (with 22 students from six different TU/e departments) spent a year on this project surmounting technical challenges in the areas of energy and mobility. Cooperation with industry has given the students an opportunity to become familiar with top-notch entrepreneurship, thereby underlining TU/e’s vision for educating the engineer of tomorrow.
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