Flinders launches car for World Solar Challenge

Four years of engineering brainpower and hundreds of hours spent building a practical solar car will be put to the test when the Flinders Automotive Solar Team (FAST) sets out on a 3,000 kilometre journey across the outback in the 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.

FAST today unveiled Investigator Mark III– designed and built by a crew of student and staff volunteers to compete in the Cruiser Class, which encourages teams to come up with practical electric vehicles judged on a range of measures, including whether they meet current road regulations and seat at least two people.

Director Stuart Wildy says the FAST car was designed to resemble what people could one day be driving on Australian roads but is modified to travel up to 1,200 kms without having to recharge with an increased battery size and substantial engineering improvements.

“We switched from dual hub motors to a more efficient single inboard motor in 2019, with the aim of reaching speeds up to 100km/h on outback roads without having to stop and recharge. It has comfortable seating, an actual windscreen, conventional doors and the ability to charge at a standard AC charging station,” says Dr Wildy.

“We aimed to build a practical car for this year’s Cruiser Class having learnt some tough lessons in our first attempt in 2017 which didn’t go to plan and are looking forward to the challenge.”

FAST Investigator Mark III

  • Top Speed: Over 100km/h
  • Range: 1,200km target
  • Mass: Approx. 550kg
  • Solar Capacity: 900W
  • Solar Cell Count: 2,880
Flinders Automotive Solar Team with Tourism Minister David Ridgway, Bridgestone World Solar Challenge Event Director Chris Selwood AM, Professor Alistair Rendell and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Students) Professor Clare Pollock

The ‘new kids on the block’ in solar racing will go up against tertiary institutions, industry participants and schools from 24 countries in a five day race which runs from Adelaide to Darwin in October 2019.

The FAST team also worked with the College of Science and Engineering to expand placement opportunities for students as part of their engineering training.

The solar car offers the opportunity to investigate solar technology through a real, team based project where students can test their theories, ideas and innovations.

Professor Alistair Rendell (Vice President of the College of Science and Engineering) says it’s great to see Investigator III unveiled in the Main Assembly Building at Tonsley.

“A site that not so long ago had Mitsubishi cars rolling off the productive line has been brought back to automative life by Stuart and his team albeit through the design and assembly of a radically different breed of car.”

“Drawing on their mechanical, electrical and project management skills the creation of investigator III represented a true systems engineering challenge for the team. Well done on meeting that challenge. We wish you all the best for the drive from Darwin to Adelaide.”

Bridgestone World Solar Challenge Event Director, Chris Selwood AM, says it’s exciting to see the ambitions of the Flinders Automotive Solar Team (FAST) coming together, for the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, Cruiser Class appearance.

“As a volunteer for the event back in 2015, Team Leader, Stuart Wildy, saw firsthand the scale, complexity and multidisciplinary approach needed to compete and how those learnings could evolve into a Flinders University solar car that could support the University tradition of renewable energy research.” Mr Selwood said.

“The FAST project is a tangible way for students to test their theories, ideas and innovations on a global stage. As a Flinders Alumni myself, I’m proud to see this investment in home-grown, South Australian sustainable green-tech and I wish them every success.’

53 teams from 24 countries have entered the The 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge which takes place from Darwin to Adelaide, South Australia from 13-20 October.

FAST is travelling to Coober Pedy for the 5 day testing stage on 27 September, 2019.

You can follow the FAST team’s progress on its Facebook page.

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College of Science and Engineering

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