The Brigestone World Solar Challenge follows a simple yet ultimately breathtaking framework. Every team's task emcompasses building a moving vehicle capable of crossing the entirety of mainland Australia while using nothing but solar power. A single highway stretches from Darwin, NT all the way to Adelaide, SA over a distance of a little over 3000 kilometers. This distance needs to be covered within one week between the 13th and 20th of October 2019.
International teams from all corners of the world coming together in Australia to combine skillful engineering and the shared experiences of a unique adventure is what makes the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge stand out the way it does. The biennial competition (triennial up to 1999) will enter its 15th edition this year. It may well look back on a great history spanning over three decades. During this time the BWSC has been developed ever further as have the rules and regularities shaping it. Still the philosophy at its core has remained the same: Some of the brightest young minds of their generation are invited to come together in Australia to dicuss and work on future means of sustainable and eco-friendly transportation.
The journey to this event begins some time prior. Every SolarCar needs to be thoroughly planned, designed, produced, assembled, and assessed on whether it may stand up to the challenge of crossing the Australian outback without the means of combustion and purely using solar energy. After constructing a capable vehicle in their home country, teams also spend a time of approximately five weeks in Australia leading up to the main event. During this time every aspect of a team's organization, logistics schedule, and technical details needs to be addressed under local conditions.
Initially there was only one universal category for all participants at the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. This status quo has become addressed and modified on several occasions until the current standard of three seperate classes was established in 2013. Being above all a competition in design, the BWSC has always sought to award not just the fastest but also the most efficient of SolarCars. Along with some of the massive strides electrical engineering as a whole has taken over the last two decades, this has been on of several reasons to split the Challenge up into those three categories.
Generally speaking, teams may decide on whether they will want to build a solar vehicle to compete in the Challenger, Cruiser, or Adventure Class. Depending on this choice, the future vehicle will have to conform to certain standards in terms of size, area covered by solar cells, maximum number of passengers, and number of wheels. The Cruiser Class tends to be the one drawing the largest amount of attention from the public. Being faced with challenges all too well known to most representatives of the automotive industry, teams participating in this class strive to create a vehicle most suitable for usage in everyday life above all.
As in previous BWSC editions we will once again participate in the Cruiser Class this year.
Every edition of the BWSC tends to challenge its participants to the utmost. Teams usually rise up to their tasks however, thus regularly producing new and exciting results year after year to increase the functionality and efficiency of SolarCars.
This year will once again see numerous modifications from the 2017 edition. One of the most challenging new aspects of the Cruiser Class being the reduction of charging stops along the route. Only two such stops will be permitted during the entire 2019 race. These will take place at the fixedly installed chargers near the towns of Tennant Creek and Coober Pedy. Naturally, Cruiser Class Vehicles need to be constructed in a way to be able to use these chargers accordingly. The time frame available for charging is however limited from sunset to 11 pm. Additionally a tighter schedule might increase the levels of stress.
The Cruiser Class Practicability Challenge is the sole constant through these years. The final task at the conclusion of the race in Adelaide requires teams to prove the everyday compatability of their SolarCars. To meet all these challenges the participating vehicles need to be a whole series of radical new innovations, which will no doubt revolutionize the field of solar mobility once more.