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MIT students to race UPS-sponsored solar car from Darwin to Adelaide

THE Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Centre for Transportation & Logistics (MIT CTL) will race its student-built solar-powered car in the October's Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia.

MIT students to race UPS-sponsored solar car from Darwin to Adelaide
08 September 2015 - 21:03

MIT students to race UPS-sponsored solar car from Darwin to Adelaide

THE Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Centre for Transportation & Logistics (MIT CTL) will race its student-built solar-powered car in the October's Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia.

United Parcel Service (UPS) MIT CTL's, supply chain partner, is sponsoring the student team by transporting the 490-pound vehicle to Australia. The week-long race begins on Sunday, October 18, in Darwin and ends in Adelaide.

"It's critical that the business community support programmes that combine science and technology research that have practical research outcomes," said UPS engineering chief Randy Stashick. 

Said MIT CTL director Yossi Sheffi: "Solar-powered commercial vehicles might seem like a long way off, but the MIT team's pioneering work to create Arcturus brings us a step closer to this goal."

The 3,000-kilometre trek across the Australian Outback is one of the world's premier events for promoting the development of solar powered vehicles. 

MIT's Arcturus car uses solar energy to charge a battery. It consumes the same amount of energy as a hand-held hairdryer to sustain speeds of more than 60 miles per hour.

The team has minimised the weight of the car while still complying with safety regulations. The chassis is constructed of chromoly steel tubing, an alloy commonly used in race cars owing to its higher strength-to-weight ratio compared to standard steel tubing.

Solar cars eliminate the need for widespread universal, high-speed electricity charging system infrastructure. The team also believes that 3D printing of composite materials could greatly accelerate the mass production.

Said MIT student team leader Rose Abramson: "The solar challenge tests more than design. It tests robustness and reliability, so important to transferring what we do to a conventional vehicle."

The project has inspired spin-off products related to solar power applications and lithium battery systems that could be applied to commercial vehicles. 

One near-term application of the car's solar-power technology in the supply chain management field could be to power in-vehicle equipment such as refrigeration units.

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