Solar car gears up for starting line

All the hard work is paying off for the FAST entry in the 2017 BWSC.

An innovative solar system features in Flinders University’s first entry in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, with the Cruiser class passenger vehicle about to hit the road for Darwin.

The Flinders Automotive Solar Team (FAST) vehicle (‘Investigator III’) was unveiled at the Main Assembly Building at Tonsley. Road trials will commence after some finishing touches.

The vehicle is part of a wave of new research to progress the next generation of solar electric family cars.

“We’re excited to be incorporating technologies such as an energy conserving strategy engine, flexible and embedded solar panels, regenerative suspension and a novel mesh communications to our entry vehicle,” says FAST director Dr Stuart Wildy.

The team will enter an Australian Design Rules-compliant car in the challenge’s Cruiser class which features cars capable of carrying passengers.

The world’s leading solar challenge event starts in Darwin on 8 October and with three classes – Challenger, Cruiser and Adventure – travelling through Katherine, Tennant Creek, and Alice Springs, Coober Pedy and Port Augusta to finish on 15 October in Victoria Square, Adelaide.

“A lot of Flinders research has gone into the design and car build, and the aim is to travel an average 100km an hour over the 3,000km road trip,” Dr Wildy says.

South Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Leanne Read inspects the vehicle with Dr Stuart Wildy at the solar car launch event at Tonsley Innovation Precinct on 11 September.

“It’s also a bonus to see the project take shape at Flinders at Tonsley on the site of the former car-making plant.”

More than 50 academics and staff have been involved in the project for the past two years, with several of the science and engineering laboratories at Flinders at Tonsley the focus of research.

South Australian solar company Praxis Aeronautics, which is supplying the novel solar cell system, has joined a list of sponsors supporting the University’s inaugural entry into the event.

Bridgestone World Solar Car Challenge event director Chris Selwood, himself a graduate of Flinders University, will be at the vehicle launch at Tonsley.

“This endurance adventure has given a wide range of our students – from education, tourism, health sciences and the arts to computer science, IT, mathematics and engineering – high-level project-based learning, working from our high-tech facilities at the Tonsley Innovation Precinct,” Dr Wildy says.

Flinders University paramedic students Zeb Schulz and Acacia Vormister will support the car and crews while Bachelor of Education (Science) students Kimberley Jackson and Matthew Siviour are heading off along the route to deliver a special outreach program.

Students and staff gave special thanks to other leading FAST sponsors REDARC Electronics, Bridgestone Australia, Corning® Gorilla® Glass, Intel,  Tonsley Innovation Precinct, Renewal SA, City of Marion, Bridgestone World Solar Challenge -Bridgestone Corp, Pedders Suspension, Lions Club of McLaren Districts, Mars Performance, ZEN Energy, Aurrigo Driverless Technology, Tonkin Consulting, Signarama Melrose Park and Brand South Australia.

Keep up to date with all the latest information, including tracking the cars on their journey

Go to and follow the progress of the Flinders Investigator III vehicle at Facebook or twitter @FlindersSolar

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