Cambridge University Eco Racing team manager Keno Mario-Ghae with entry vehicle Resolution

British solar car pulls out of race

A solar car created by engineers from Cambridge University has had to pull out of a race in Australia after a crash just days before the start.

The Cambridge University Eco Racing (CUER) team’s car Resolution was the only British car to qualify for the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge as one of 28 vehicles entered in the Challenger category of the 1,860-mile seven-day race from Darwin to Adelaide.

But last Tuesday the car rolled onto its side after an accident on a specially designated solar testing road, and despite attempts to repair the car in time for the race the team decided to pull out on Saturday due to concerns over the safety of their drivers.

The driver of the car was unhurt in the accident.  

In a blog posting, team manager Keno Mario-Ghaewe said: “We have not been able reassure ourselves of the safety of our solar drivers. Therefore, with great regret, we have decided to withdraw. The team is very disappointed but we are confident that we have made the right decision.”

The innovative bullet-shaped car weighs just 120kg and carries the world’s most efficient terrestrial solar array embedded within a unique aft-facing sun tracking plate that follows the trajectory of the sun, which provides a 20 per cent gain in power.

After the accident the team carried out repairs to the structure of the car, to restore the safety cage around the driver, but following further tests carried out under controlled conditions on track new dynamic instabilities made themselves apparent.

The team were unable to fix the problems before the race, prompting the decision to pull out.

Mario-Ghaewe said: “Despite these setbacks, there are many positives to be taken from the event this year. First and foremost, our engineers have ensured that our drivers have been safe at all times, with the car’s crash structure performing as designed in the event of an accident.

“Secondly, Resolution produced its best ever results while testing in Australia, indicating that CUER would have been on target to be competitive. Additionally, we have developed several new and innovative technologies over this design cycle: the tracking plate, flexible fairings, and concentrator systems – all of which will stand CUER in good stead for future competitions.

“And finally: Resolution has been an inspiration – to us; to the many members of the public who have been able to see her displayed; and to the next generation of engineers.”

The team plans to learnt to build enter the competition again in two years’ time.

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