Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

Cal Poly students develop plan for super fast solar-powered car

by Julia Paskin | Take Two®

Design for PROVE Lab's fastest solar car Courtesy of PROVE Lab

A team of students from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo's Prototype Vehicles Laboratory, known as PROVE Lab, have designed what they hope to be the fastest solar powered car to date. 

In order to achieve a speed more competitive with other alternative fuel vehicles, the multi-disciplinary team—ranging from engineers to business students—created what they call the most aerodynamic vehicle ever designed. The prototype is so lightweight that it can be carried by a two people. 

They hope to achieve a speed of about 70 miles per hour powered only by solar energy—no back-up power source.

The PROVE Lab team is scheduled to put their project to the test in next June when they intend to break the international land speed record for solar vehicles in the Mojave Desert, where there's plenty of sun. 

The test program will be in conjunction with a middle school education program funded by a grant from the American Honda Foundation

Take Two's Alex Cohen spoke with David Alexander who the project manager and a student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in Aerospace Engineering and Chief Engineer at PROVE Lab. He described the car and the project like this:

What we have is basically, a hyper aerodynamic shell. It's much more like a wing than a car but it does have four wheels. It's designed to be about 20 feet long and 8 feet wide which I know is massive. We're using this more as a proof of concept than a get-your-briefcase-and-go-to-work kind of car. We want to show the world that with just solar power, you can go the highway speed limit. ...that you can go to work and not have to buy any gas for your car - that's where we'd like to go in the future. But mainly this is a look [at] what we can do with just the power of the sun. 

Click the blue audio player above to hear the full interview.

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