MIT Solar Electric Vehicle Team to drive 2000 mi. across Australian Outback

Fraunhofer CSE PV Technician Liz Fuller (right) assist Abramson with the solar array lamination. The Arcturus will be the third SEVT car with a solar array built at Fraunhofer CSE.

Fraunhofer CSE PV Technician Liz Fuller (right) assist Abramson with the solar array lamination. The Arcturus will be the third SEVT car with a solar array built at Fraunhofer CSE.

For most, driving 2000 miles across the Australian Outback is a pipe dream. For the MIT Solar Electric Vehicle Team (SEVT), it’s a reality and they plan to do it in their student-built, solar-powered vehicle in just under one week.

To prepare for this October’s race, SEVT is working at Fraunhofer CSE to construct and laminate the car’s solar array; building the car’s composite body at Custom Composites in Maine; and working within their team to test the car’s new components. All of this work is being done with the goal in mind to successfully complete the strenuous 2000-mile drive across the Australian Outback.

A portion of Arcturus' new solar array after being laminated at Fraunhofer CSE. The array's flexibility is a key factor in the vehicle's design.

A portion of Arcturus’ new solar array after being laminated at Fraunhofer CSE. The array’s flexibility is a key factor in the vehicle’s design.

SEVT will compete in the Challenger Class of the 2015 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia. The race route begins in Darwin and will take SEVT 3000km (about 2000 miles) across the Australian Outback to the finish line in Adelaide. To compete in this competition, SEVT is building the club’s 15th car, Arcturus. Previous editions of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge allowed vehicles with three wheels. This year, the competition now requires vehicles in the Challenger Class to have four wheels; be a maximum of 4.5 meters long by 1.8 meters wide; and have a maximum solar array of 6 meters2.

“The car is not built for driver comfort. It’s built for efficiency,” said Rose Abramson, the SEVT Captain. “My goal is to drive the entire distance. It would be great to be in the top ten [finishers].”

Race route for the 2015 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. Photo source: www.worldsolarchallenge.org

Race route for the 2015 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. Photo source: www.worldsolarchallenge.org

Before SEVT heads off to Australia, they will be showcasing their last car, Valkyrie, at numerous community events around Boston and Cambridge. To follow the upcoming preparations for the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge and see updates from the race in October, tune-in to their blog.

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