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A vision to build an efficient, practical family car fuelled by solar power is driving a Flinders University team to get their first entry in the 2017 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in October.

Building on a history of electric carmaking at Flinders since the early 1970s, the new Flinders Automotive Solar Team (FAST) is working with industry partners and leading researchers in emerging fields of automotive technology to design a winning entry in the Cruiser passenger class.

To help them on their way, the public and supporters are invited to help fund the major project with online contributions via a crowdfunding campaign. The campaign is due to close by

All financial assistance will help to get the Flinders team’s bold new design features in their first real road test during this year’s 3,000km race from Darwin to Adelaide.

Built and designed at the Tonsley Innovation Precinct at Clovelly Park, the former site of Mitsubishi carmaking, the Flinders team’s Investigator #Mark III vehicle comes with a long tradition of automotive projects at Flinders.

“Flinders teams have been building electric and other road vehicles since 1974,” says FAST leader Dr Stuart Wildy, a mechanical engineering lecturer at Flinders at Tonsley.

Dr Stuart Wildy inside the Investigator #Mark III solar electric vehicle chassis.
Dr Stuart Wildy inside the Investigator #Mark III vehicle chassis.

“Our latest road compliant solar car is incorporating some great new features and will contribute towards achieving a cleaner and sustainable future for family cars,” he says.

The Flinders Investigator #Mark III vehicle will incorporate features such as the Flinders-invented Serval remote communications system, regenerative suspension and braking and even artificial intelligence capabilities in its electronic and computer design.

“We have designed and now sourcing components for our solar car to not only win the challenge but to be part of a cleaner, more sustainable transport system in the future,” Dr Wildy says.

“Our group of dedicated students, researchers, staff, volunteers and sponsors have worked for more than two years to develop new solar cell technology, autonomous systems, regenerative suspension and a novel telemetry system.

“They’re now excited to get their automotive technologies in the spotlight through the international event in October – and play a part to improve the efficiency of future electric and autonomous vehicles.”

 

The FAST team and crew includes students from engineering, computer science, information technology, business, mechanics, science, nanotechnology, marketing, tourism, health sciences and other arts and sciences courses.

The Flinders Automotive Solar Team (FAST) at the Main Assembly Building (MAB) at Flinders at Tonsley.

To be able to support their entry into the race, the team would welcome any contributions to via their Pozible Crowdfunding campaign.

FAST corporate sponsors include SA high-tech manufacturer REDARC, Flinders University, Corning, City of Marion, MARS Performance, Intel and ZEN Energy

Platinum sponsor REDARC is committed to the FAST venture, pledging to supply lithium-ion batteries, PCB assembly, tooling and several Pure Sine Wave Inverters for the Investigator #Mark III.

“Solar and renewable energy industries continue to grow and REDARC is investing in this project to help develop the skills of young people in South Australia,” says REDARC chief executive Anthony Kittel.

“REDARC engineers have put a lot of effort into research, development and testing of our solar panel technology to ensure we have the latest and the best when it comes to automotive solar power.

“One of the company’s core principles, and to the success of REDARC, is our investment in people and innovation into new products and new technologies.

“This is why REDARC is also investing in the community and universities, with the FAST project at Flinders offering a unique personal development opportunity for students to participate in an event on a global stage.

“These types of events not only bolster community spirit through people and innovation, but play an important role in expanding the applications for sustainable solar and renewable energy within the automotive sector.”

Lonsdale-based REDARC supplies a range of portable solar panels and blankets for the recreational vehicle market through an established Australia-wide approved installer network.

Follow the FAST bid to win gold in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge on their website, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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