Cambridge University Eco Racing team (CUER) has been forced to design a radical new solar car in its attempt to win the World Solar Challenge, a 3,000 km race across Australia.
The team, based in the Department of Engineering, had spent nine months developing a car to race in 2013 when an unexpected rule change forced them to abandon the motorbike-like prototype in June. However, the team embraced the challenge to change their design and are confident they now have something even better.
As with the motorcycle concept, the team has taken an unconventional approach to creating a solar-powered car, using aerodynamics to drive the design rather than the maximum allowed solar panel area.
Code-name "Daphne", the design has been officially launched to the public and is now being built with the help of loyal sponsors, Department staff and alumni. Like its unfinished predecessor, it is a clean break from the now-ingrained vision of a solar car being a large, mainly flat surface on three wheels and is hoped to lead the future of solar car racing.
The car launch evening was held at Queens' College with speeches from Professor Tony Purnell, the former team principal of the Jaguar Racing and Red Bull Racing Formula 1 teams, and Dr Ivor Grayson-Smith, a judge of the World Solar Challenge. The team held its press conference the day before, gaining wide-spread publicity and support from celebrities, media, academics and various industries.
The CUER team is also working hard on fund-raising for the project and have launched an online "kickstarter" initiative to raise £10,000 for the project before the end of the year. The fundraising initiative invites people to pledge a donation in return for rewards such as hand-finished key rings, race shirts and invitations to events which correspond to the size of the donation.
The Department of Engineering continues to be a hub of fresh-thinking innovation where the majority of the team, consisting of under- and post-graduates, are working with alumni, Department staff and sponsors to complete the vehicle by June, ready for testing before it is transported to Australia to compete in the World Solar Challenge 2013.