That sound you can’t hear is not the clatter of my keyboard but rather rain coming down on Adelaide as I write this. However, despite the rain falling now, we had fine conditions and plenty of sunshine for the 2013 World Solar Challenge Parade that was held earlier today.
I went along to the parade and I thought I would share with you a few photographs that I took. Actually I took 73 photographs all together, but a lot of them were of my thumb. (Or at least somebody’s thumb. I really need to clean out my camera.)
This was the inaugural parade for the World Solar Challenge. It’s new. What was also new was the Cruiser Class of solar vehicle entrants.
Challenger Class: These were four wheeled, fast, aerodynamic, single person vehicles, built for the speed and reliability required to have a shot at crossing the finish line first.
Cruiser Class: These vehicles were designed to be more practical for day to day use. They carried at least two people, had four wheels, and with modification could potentially become street legal solar powered cars.
Adventure Class: These vehicles had three wheels and a single driver and were generally older vehicles run by teams that still wished to take part in the Challenge.
The vehicles were limited to battery storage of around 5 kilowatt-hours and no recharging was allowed from any source other than the sun during the race. The maximum solar panel area was limited to six square meters. The permissible panel area was higher in the past but was reduced for the 2007 Challenge on account of how solar cars had improved so much by that point that highway speed limits in Australia were simply too low to allow many entrants to travel at the speeds they were capable of.
Before the start of the parade the public were able to gawk at the vehicles and also meet team members. All the vehicles appeared to be in good condition except for some damage to the Cambridge University entry that had a bit of a prang prior to the race commencing. The team members also seemed in good condition considering they had completed a gruelling cross continental trip where conditions ranged from a blistering, sun drenched, 42 degrees Celsius in the center of Australia to a soggy 13 degrees close to Adelaide. While some members were clearly fatigued they gave the impression of having held up very well.
Great improvements have been made in solar cars since the challenge began in 1987 and rapid improvements are still being made in photoelectric power, battery chemistry, and materials science, so it will be interesting to see how things shape up and what kind of entrants we’ll see at the next World Solar Challenge in two years time.
(Full disclosure: Yes, I know that’s actually supposed to be a gecko and not a dinosaur.)