Solar Car Challenge Underway
The Solar Car Challenge, a time/distance race of solar powered vehicles from Dallas, Texas to Alberta, Canada, is set to arrive in North Dakota today. The University of Michigan Continuum, winner of four previous solar challenges, is currently in the lead. Each of the cars must meet a stringent set of standards, closely follow a set of rules and regulations, and qualify for the event in difficult test matches. The race is a proving ground for emerging technologies like advanced lithium ion batteries and solar cells. The cars are highly engineered to be lightweight and aerodynamic. The last solar challenge saw speeds in excess of 65 mph, an increase of 20 mph since the first race was held in 1987. Auto companies are paying attention. Ford and Honda are well represented among the competing teams and Toyota is a major sponsor of the event. The events of the race can be followed on the race blog and photos can be viewed at this photostream.
With solar technology emerging as fast as it is, maybe we can expect solar powered vehicles for local travel soon. Toyota recently announced that the Prius would incorporate solar technology to help power the cars electrical components.