For over 30 years, the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge has welcomed the greatest minds from around the world to Australia to push the limits of technological innovation and travel the outback in a vehicle powered only by the energy of the sun.
Traversing 3,000km from Darwin to Adelaide, teams comprise of tertiary and secondary students from over 30 countries.
These students and their support team have achieved greatness by engineering and building a vehicle with their own hands and powering it across some of the world's most challenging landscape.
In 2017, the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge celebrated its 30th Anniversary. The 2021 competition marks the 16th journey from the Top End to Adelaide.
Based on the original notion that a 1000W car would complete the journey in 50 hours, solar cars are allowed a nominal 5kW hours of stored energy, which is 10% of that theoretical figure. All other energy must come from the sun or be recovered from the kinetic energy of the vehicle. These are arguably the most efficient electric vehicles.
Having made the journey to Darwin by successfully navigating quarantine, customs, scrutineering, safety inspections and undertaken event briefings, participants start their epic journey.
Once the teams have left Darwin they must travel as far as they can until 5:00pm in the afternoon where they make camp in the desert where-ever they happen to be. All teams must be fully self-sufficient and for all concerned it is a great adventure - many say the adventure of a lifetime.
During the journey there are 9 mandatory check points where observers are changed and team managers may update themselves with the latest information on the weather, and their position in the field. At check points, teams can perform the most basic of maintenance only - checking and maintenance of tyre pressure and cleaning of debris from the vehicle.
Participating teams enter their vehicle into one of the following three classes:
The Challenger Class, for single-seat solar cars designed to be fast.
The Cruiser Class, for efficient, practical solar cars with two or more seats.
The Adventure Class, a non-competitive class for solar cars built for previous events.
Learn more about the three classes here.
CSIRO Technical Innovation Award - Kogakuin University Solar Team
Event Safety Award - Team Sonnenwagen Aachen e.V.
Excellence in Engineering Award sponsored by Flinders University (Inaugural Award in 2019) - Top Dutch Solar Racing
Promotional Award - Solar Team Twente
David Fewchuck Spirit of the Event Award - Team Sonnenwagen Aachen e.V.
2019 Smart Grid Pitch Competition Winner - Solar Team Eindhoven
Cruiser Class - 3rd Place - IVE Engineering Solar Car Team
Cruiser Class - 2nd Place - Sunswift
Cruiser Class - Winner - Solar Team Eindhoven
Challenger Class - 3rd Place - University of Michigan Solar Car Team
Challenger Class - 2nd Place - Tokai University Solar Car Team
Challenger Class - Winner - Agoria Solar Team