Australian engineering students building the next generation of more efficient solar cars for this year's Darwin to Adelaide race are excited about a new IMAX movie that will showcase the event to an American audience.
The IMAX film Dream Big, encourages young people to study science, technology, engineering and maths, was launched at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington DC in Febuary 2017.
The movie focuses on teams competing in the 3,000-kilometre Darwin to Adelaide World Solar Challenge race.
For Spencer Olds, from the University of Adelaide solar car team, the Dream Big tag is a good fit.
"On a big scale everyone wants a car that you never have to fill up at a petrol station," he said.
He said the ultimate goal was to build a mass produced reliable solar car that never needed to visit a petrol station.
"You could buy it, run it and never have to look under the hood."
Entry to have 30 per cent less drag
The University of Adelaide team is again competing in the challenger class of the event this year, but new rules have cut the space they can use for solar panels from 6 square metres to 4 square metres.
Mr Olds said the car the team was building for this year's World Solar Challenge would be very different from the previous entry. "It's going to have 30 per cent less drag, it's going to be a whole lot more efficient, faster and lighter," he said.
Students from Flinders University are building a four-passenger solar car as they prepare to compete in the cruiser passenger-car class of the event for the first time. Team director Dr Stuart Wildy said technology developed by the university would be built into the car including a telemetry system that enabled car-to-car communication in areas with no mobile phone coverage and regenerative suspension that used movement to charge the car's batteries.
Dr Wildy said there were also plans to integrate technology developed by autonomous vehicle manufacturer RDM to develop a self-driving solar car.
He also believes it is highly likely that the innovative work being done by students competing in the World Solar Challenge will lead to cars of the future being built in Australia.
The 30th anniversary World Solar Challenge in 2017 race starts in Darwin on October 8 and runs until October 15.
Original article sourced article by Michael Coogan appeared on www.abc.net.au, February 17 2017.
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