EINDHOVEN: In a groundbreaking achievement, a solar-powered car capable of extended off-road journeys without recharging – called the Stella Terra – has concluded a rigorous 620-mile (1,000km) test drive across the challenging landscapes of Morocco and the Sahara Desert, The Guardian reported.
Designed by students from Eindhoven University of Technology, the two-seat marvel relies on solar panels for power and boasts impressive features.
The Stella Terra has a lightweight frame and an aerodynamic profile that was rigorously tested during the recent expedition. A network of solar panels adorning its roof provides the car with its primary source of energy. These panels enable the Stella Terra to reach a top speed of 90mph (145kmph) while weighing a mere 1,200 kg (1.2 tonnes). On a sunny day, it can cover a range of at least 440 miles (710km).
The team behind Stella Terra consists of 22 students, aged between 21 and 25, who dedicated a year to bring this groundbreaking project to life. Although they faced challenges, such as a temporary steering system failure during the expedition, the issues were promptly resolved, showcasing the car’s resilience.
Wisse Bos, the team manager of Solar Team Eindhoven, expressed his enthusiasm for the groundbreaking technology underpinning the Stella Terra. He stated, “Stella Terra must withstand the harsh conditions of off-roading while remaining efficient and light enough to be powered by the sun. That is why we had to design almost everything for Stella Terra ourselves, from the suspension to the inverters for the solar panels. We are pushing the boundaries of technology.”
He added that the technology used was a decade ahead of anything on the market.
This remarkable vehicle also incorporates a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, ensuring it can operate even in less sunny environments, albeit over shorter distances. The energy generated by the car’s solar panels is so substantial that it can power additional amenities, such as cooking equipment and devices like phones and cameras.
Bob van Ginkel, the project’s technical manager, remarked, “We hope this can be an inspiration to car manufacturers such as Land Rover and BMW to make it a more sustainable industry. The car was actually very comfortable in the off-road conditions as it is very light and does not get stuck.”
One of the key highlights of the Stella Terra is its highly efficient solar panel converter, boasting an impressive 97 percent efficiency rate in converting absorbed sunlight into electrical charge. The car exceeded original efficiency expectations by a third.
Britt van Hulst, the project’s finance manager, acknowledged that there’s further work to be done before the design can hit the market but emphasised its potential for major automobile manufacturers to explore.