Prototype Vehicles Lab (PROVE Lab) at California Polytechnic State University has developed solar car that can reach 65mph without any battery.
The solar-powered car is a result of two and a half years of hard work. It was designed using hundreds of hours of simulation, along with wind tunnel testing for the aerodynamics. The vehicle produces a couple kilograms of aerodynamic drag. It is powered by an array of 2kW solar panels, and unlike other solar cars, it can travel up to 65mph without any battery.
PROVE Lab’s aim is to develop solar cars in a cost-effective way. While the solar vehicle is not ready for production yet, it is designed using advanced materials, aerodynamics, and innovation.
Solar Car Features
A single electric motor used in the solar vehicle is 97% efficient and is able to convert all available power into speed. The current record for a solar car is 56mph, while the solar-powered car ‘Dawn’ developed by PROVE Lab can reach a freeway speed limit of 65mph.
At the moment, the vehicle has no steering wheel. In order to get in and out of the car, one has to pitch up and forward the top half of the car. To design the solar vehicle, the team at PROVE Lab chose 605 individual solar cells to create the array. The design is similar to the kind seen on rooftops around the world.
Every single part of the car was designed and built by the team, including the accompanying software. For most of the part, the team has used an aerospace-grade carbon fiber, which weighs less than 200kg in total. The lightweight will allow tires to develop more resistance and produce high-performance. One can deploy sensors using a special flag on the upper surface, concealed by solar cells.
The recent surge in development of solar vehicles could transform the global transportation industry. China has developed a road paved with solar panels to power autonomous vehicles. The so-called solar road is decked with mapping sensors and electric-battery rechargers as the nation puts to test the world’s first “intelligent highway.” The intelligent highway technology will be embedded on a 1,080-meter-long stretch of road in the eastern city of Jinan. More than 40,000 vehicles use the road every day, and the solar panels embedded underneath the transparent concrete will generate enough electricity to power highway lights about 800 nearby homes.