Aussie teams look to tunnel vision to blow away world’s best

In the global race to see who can deliver the solution to sustainable mobility, two Australian teams in this year’s Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, are hopeful collaboration and cutting-edge research techniques will put them on the podium ahead of tough international competition. Australia’s first five-state national entrant, the Australian Technology Network (ATN) Solar Car Team, along with one of Australia’s most successful solar electric racing teams, Clenergy Team Arrow, are using state-of-the- art modelling techniques in ATN partner RMIT’s Industrial Wind Tunnel, to predict their solar cars performance, in preparation for the 3,000-kilometre endurance event in October.

Speaking at the testing, Matt Millar, ATN Solar Car Team driver, team lead for the exterior design and build and RMIT Master of Design Student, said the wide-ranging aerodynamic testing capabilities could make all the difference when it comes to designing a solar car that can withstand punishing outback conditions, including strong winds and dust storms.

‘The RMIT Industrial Wind Tunnel can reproduce wind effects up to 150km/h. We can assess wind drag on our scale solar car models and simulate race speeds allowing us to validate projections and estimations with real data.

Instead of having to rely on simulations alone, we can experience real-world testing, which puts us on a more level playing field with our international opposition. We can then fine-tune our design for optimal performance in the desert,’ Mr Millar said.

Cameron Tuesley, Team Arrow Founder said his team was excited to have the opportunity to be part of the collaborative testing and to see how its one metre long model performs.

‘Having competed in several BWSC events, and been 3rd place podium finishers in 2017, we’ve experienced first-hand the fickle side of Mother Nature. Success in the Cruiser Class is about much more than speed. If your solar car can’t perform in a variety of conditions, you won’t make the finish line,’ Mr Tuesley said.

BWSC Event Director, Chris Selwood said he was delighted to see Australian teams now having the industry expertise and test facilities once the domain of big-budget international competitors.

‘Australian innovation and manufacturing are among the world’s best. These two teams are to be congratulated for their collaborative approach – I look forward to seeing this technology in everyday vehicles in the very near future,’ Mr Selwood concluded.