This year’s location for the five-day World Solar Challenge was Australia. On 22 October our team completed an intense race through the desert to finish first. We covered 3000 kilometres in just 33 hours, 26 minutes and 12 seconds, making us the first competitors to cross the finish line.
And we did it all using just solar energy in the Nuna8, a fantastic car built with our own hands. An amazing experience! This result was not thrown in our lap; we worked very hard to get this far.
Starting in August last year, we (15 students from Delft University of Technology, Ed.) began working fulltime on designing, building and testing our solar vehicle. Soon after we started, our working week began to stretch into our evenings and weekends too. We faced several major challenges during this project. Naturally, time was one but other challenges included keeping calm during the race and having the courage to rely on each other. The team was under a great deal of pressure as we were in second place for four out of the five racing days.
It struck me that all the vehicles were very similar looking this year. Each design took the form of an asymmetrical four-wheel vehicle. Compared to its predecessor, the Nuna8 was significantly lighter, weighing 30 kilos less. Another key factor was that aerodynamic resistance had been reduced by 9%. Aside from winning the race, it was great to see the other teams jostle around our car like mad so they could get a look.
At the beginning, we worked closely with V.O. to ensure that we would be able to market our knowledge and innovations and prevent the competition from taking off with our ideas. And of course it is great to have V.O. on board as a sponsor too!
Most of our team will now take some time out to enjoy Australia’s natural beauty, while a new team is already eagerly waiting in the wings to take over the baton.
Member of the NUON Solar Team, responsible for sponsor relations