An undergraduate team have collaborated with top UK automotive companies and experts to develop and manufacture ‘Helia’ – a new solar-powered electric vehicle.
It’s incredible to see how electric vehicle technology has developed so far in such a short space of time. These innovations have allowed us to build a four-seat car that is much faster, more efficient and practical.Xiaofan Zhang, CUER Programme Director
Student society Cambridge University Eco Racing (CUER) unveiled the four-seater vehicle at a launch held at the London Science Museum last week. The team, made up of 20 undergraduates, have created the vehicle to demonstrate current electric vehicle and renewable energy technology, with the aim being to inspire the next generation of engineers and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students.
Helia can reach speeds of 80kph (50mph) with four occupants, using just the power of a kettle. It has a single charge battery range of more than 900km, even without using the five square metres of solar cells on its roof. This is the equivalent of a trip from London to Edinburgh.
The team are currently preparing to take Helia to the 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia, in October, where they will undertake a gruelling 3,000km competition across the Outback against teams from around the world.
CUER is targeting a podium finish in the Cruiser Class – a race category where teams must build multiple occupancy vehicles that are practical, fast and efficient.
The toughest part of the competition this year includes a 1,200km stretch which the team will need to complete in just two days, without recharging from the grid, and all whilst carrying four people on board.
Xiaofan Zhang, CUER’s Programme Director, said: “CUER was founded in 2008 and built ‘Affinity’; a very large, single seat, road legal solar car that drove from Land’s End to John O’Groats. Now, just 10 years later, it’s incredible to see how electric vehicle technology has developed so far in such a short space of time. These innovations have allowed us to build a four-seat car that is much faster, more efficient and practical.
“Many of our partners are world leaders in automotive engineering, research and development and high value manufacturing. The UK has an abundance of this expertise and we have been very fortunate to leverage their capabilities in Helia.”