A Solar Guinness World Record by Sunswift
21 Dec 2018
The University of New South Wales Solar Car team Sunswift has added another achievement to their history books: setting a Guinness World Record.
Sunswift, who have previously competed in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, have set the Record for energy effiency with their solar vehicle Violet.
Setting the Record entailed driving their car trans-continentally - not from the top to the bottom of Australia like in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge - but straight across.
The team completed the journey with an average energy consumption of 3.25kWh per 100kms, with the energy costs less than a single tank of fuel. They estimated the cost at $50.
Speaking to the Sunswift Team Manager Matthew Holohan, the team set themselves the challenge both to achieve the Record, and to put their vehicle Violet to the test ahead of the 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.
"Last year when we did the WSC we didn't finish, there was a suspenion failure after 1000kms, so we've been testing the new suspensions this year. We thought 4000km across Australia would be enough to test it", said Matthew.
"At the end of the day it's reliable cars that win the [Bridgestone World Solar Challenge]. Cars that have good numbers performance wise is okay, but if it breaks down there's not much point".
All of the teams set to participate in the 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge are well into their preparations now. For some teams it means making moderations and changes to their current vehicles, and for others starting from scratch.
For many teams though, preparation also means new team members and getting them prepared for the 2019 Challenge.
Sunswift took the opportunity to introduce their new team members to the conditions they'll experience in just under a year's time.
"On the attempt there was a few experienced team members like myself, but the new team members did remarkably well for never being in the desert before. It was like the WSC in that we tried to camp as much as we could", said Matthew.
"We tried to make it the same as the WSC [in regards to support vehicles], so it was good practice."
For any teams looking to engage in a similar challenge or attempt, Sunswift welcomes the opportunity.
"I hope [other teams attempt to beat the record]. The more we all push ourselves the better the WSC becomes. If the cars keep improving each event, it just gets better for everyone".
After the record attempt, Sunswift will be looking to make modifications to their vehicle ahead of the start of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in 2019.
Admitting that it can be a juggle balancing full-time undergraduate studies and preparing for the BWSC, as many of the teams can attest, it's clear that Sunswift's passion extends far out of the race itself.
When asked about ultimating designing and building a vehicle that could apply to commercial consumption, Matthew made a an inspiriring comparison.
"Often what I tell people especially with the Cruiser Class vehicles, is it's a lot like F1 cars. You'll never drive a F1 car on an everyday basis, but they're used as a basis for designs for everyday vehicles. And that's really exciting when you think about it".
The Bridgestone World Solar Challenge starts on October 13th, 2019.