Life in the FAST Lane
16 Sep 2019
The Flinders Automotive Solar Team (FAST) are hoping to Cruise their way from Darwin to Adelaide this October – their second time participating in the BWSC.
The team of students from Flinders University, led by Dr Stuart Wildy, have been working hard for over four years to build their solar car, the Investigator Mark III.
Stuart started his journey with the BWSC in 2015 as an Observer on the BWSC, taking his learnings from to Adelaide and putting together the FAST team.
At the 2017 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, despite their best efforts, they weren’t able to make a start on the Challenge. Two years later they’ve learnt a lot from their experiences, and are feeling confident.
FAST unveiled the Investigator Mark III at Tonsley Innovation District, where their workshop is located.
“We aimed to build a practical car for this year’s Cruiser Class having learnt some tough lessons in our first attempt in 2017” said Dr Wildy.
“We switched from dual hub motors to a more efficient single inboard motor in 2019, with the aim of reaching speeds up to 100km/h on outback roads without having to stop and recharge. It has comfortable seating, an actual windscreen, conventional doors and the ability to charge at a standard AC charging station”.
Having observed Stuart’s progress with the event throughout the past few years, BWSC Event Director Chris Selwood has high hopes for FAST.
“As a volunteer for the event back in 2015, Team Leader, Stuart Wildy saw firsthand the scale, complexity and multidisciplinary approach needed to compete and how those learnings could evolve into a Flinders University solar car that could support the University tradition of renewable energy research.” Mr Selwood said.
“The FAST project is a tangible way for students to test their theories, ideas and innovations on a global stage. As a Flinders Alumni myself, I’m proud to see this investment in home-grown South Australian sustainable green-tech and I wish them every success.”
Flinders University student Cameron Pike was part of the 2017 team, and is looking forward to being part of the 2019 edition. With less than a month to go, there’s just a couple of things left to do before they make their way up the BWSC Route in reverse to Darwin.
“At the moment we’re doing a bit of the encapsulation of the solar cells, which is putting it into plastic so it protects it from the weather, so once we’ve done that then we can mount them on top of the car. Then it’s basically making sure the electronics are up and running and a little bit of tinkering with the mechanics”.
The distinctive livery on the Investigator Mark III was a collaboration with team sponsor Signarama, calling back to NASCAR racing days, and using the Flinders University colours.
"We think it looks amazing. They were inspired by NASCAR – the number 14 was taken from a real NASCAR driver” said Cameron.
Cameron and his fellow-team members are excited about meeting the other BWSC teams in just a couple of weeks, and taking the opportunity to learn from their peers.
“You see what teams like [Bochum] and [Eindhoven] can do, and the way their teams are structured. They’re built like a company, and they’re able to produce these amazing cars that could be road cars; they’re incredibly designed. For us, being involved, we can learn so much from teams like that.”
Apart from the opportunity to mix with and learn from some of the world’s brightest minds, FAST are looking forward to bettering their 2017 result.
“First of all we’d like to get over the start line and have a running car! Then, just take it as it comes – Tennant Creek, across the border, Coober Pedy… We’ll see how far we can actually get!”
The FAST Team will set off for Darwin soon, joining the teams who have arrived in Australia ahead of the BWSC starting on October 13.