Sleek new MIT solar car heads to the races

Feb 25, 2009 David Chandler
The new car, called "Eleanor," is taller than earlier versions and thus allows a much more comfortable upright seating position for the driver. With six square meters of monocrystalline silicon solar cells and improved electronic systems and design, the car can run all day on a sunny day at a steady cruising speed of 55 mph. Photo / Chris Pentacoff, MIT Solar Electric Vehicle Team

MIT's Solar Electric Vehicle Team, the oldest such student team in the country, has just finished construction of its latest high-tech car and will be unveiling it to the public this Friday from 3 to 5 p.m. in Lobby 13.

The new car, called "Eleanor," is taller than earlier versions and thus allows a much more comfortable upright seating position for the driver, who was in an almost supine position in earlier models. But despite the 30 percent greater frontal area of the vehicle, the new car has exactly the same drag area -- a measure of its wind resistance -- as the team's older one, thanks to some very sophisticated aerodynamic design and wind-tunnel testing.

With six square meters of monocrystalline silicon solar cells and improved electronic systems and design, the car can run all day on a sunny day at a steady cruising speed of 55 mph. The car will be competing in October in the World Solar Challenge race across Australia, and in preparation for that the team plans to drive the car across the United States over the summer. About a dozen team members are expected to go to Australia for the race, although only four will drive the solar car in the competition.

The new vehicle is also equipped with wireless links so that the lead and chase vehicles during the race will be able to monitor every aspect of the car's electrical performance in real time. Its batteries have enough energy, when fully charged, to get the car from Boston to New York City without need of sunlight.

David Sanchez, a senior in Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics who is the aerodynamics lead for the team, has been working on the project for more than two years. "There's no better project for a young guy who wants to do aerodynamics, all the way from conception to design to construction," he says.

Fiona Hughes, a senior in mechanical engineering and business manager of the team, says the experience has also been valuable for the process of "making decisions as a team that satisfy everyone," and adds that being a member of the team "opens doors" in the business world. "I'm interested in working in the area of alternative energy in transportation," she says, and working on the team has helped her toward that goal.

Provided by MIT

Explore further: PsiKick's batteryless sensors poised for coming 'Internet of things'

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New study outlines 'water world' theory of life's origins

15 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Life took root more than four billion years ago on our nascent Earth, a wetter and harsher place than now, bathed in sizzling ultraviolet rays. What started out as simple cells ultimately transformed ...

Honda smart home offers vision for zero carbon living

Mar 26, 2014

Honda and the University of California, Davis, today marked the opening of Honda Smart Home US, showcasing technologies that enable zero net energy living and transportation. The home in UC Davis West Village ...

What's so hard about counting craters? (w/ video)

Mar 26, 2014

(Phys.org) —Providing a rare glimpse of the trade secrets of planetary scientists, the journal Icarus published a study this month that compared lunar crater counts by eight professionals with crowdsourced ...

Recommended for you

Large streams of data warn cars, banks and oil drillers

Apr 16, 2014

Better warning systems that alert motorists to a collision, make banks aware of the risk of losses on bad customers, and tell oil companies about potential problems with new drilling. This is the aim of AMIDST, the EU project ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

John_balls
not rated yet Mar 02, 2009
Sweet, can Gm,toyota , ford and or any other car company mass manufacture one of these so I can go buy one.

Can we take what's going to be the 100billion that is going to the big 3 and build a new company that manufactures similar type cars?

More news stories

Venture investments jump to $9.5B in 1Q

Funding for U.S. startup companies soared 57 percent in the first quarter to a level not seen since 2001, as venture capitalists piled more money into an increasing number of deals, according to a report due out Friday.

White House updating online privacy policy

A new Obama administration privacy policy out Friday explains how the government will gather the user data of online visitors to WhiteHouse.gov, mobile apps and social media sites. It also clarifies that ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...

Scientists tether lionfish to Cayman reefs

Research done by U.S. scientists in the Cayman Islands suggests that native predators can be trained to gobble up invasive lionfish that colonize regional reefs and voraciously prey on juvenile marine creatures.