Update September 10, 2013 – First test drive at Australian highway
The last few days have been long days without major milestones, but still Solar Team Eindhoven has made progress on several issues. The mechanical department has been busy optimizing Stella, by for instance making small edges more flush and aligning the wheels. The electrical department tested the second battery and further optimized the sensor performance. At this point, they were assisted by the signals and control department that is constantly debugging Stella and optimizing performance.
However, today is a very special day: the first testing day of Stella in Australia. World’s first solar powered family car went testing with half of the team and several escort vehicles on a Northern Territory highway: The Cox Peninsula Road. With its 66 kilometers this road is ideal to practice longer runs under Australian circumstances for Stella as well as her passengers. Stella drove 200 kilometers without any problems at the Australian highway, a wonderful milestone! The test was also the first for drivers and passengers and, to be honest, it was better than expected. Some promising results altogether….
Update September 6, 2013– ‘Hello World’ and preps
First solar family car Stella sent her first ‘Hello World’ to the computers of the Signals and Control group. To do so, the Cohda Wireless MK3 modules for wireless communication have been configured.
To make Stella ride more comfortable, the mechanical group has disassembled the rear suspension to change the old bearings by new SKF-bearings that have less freeplay. Consequently, Stella is unable to drive today: the team is now working on the front suspension.
The Bridgestone World Solar Challenge has announced the detailed route notes. The strategy department of Solar Team Eindhoven is busy translating them and investigates optimal energy use along the route.
Update September 4, 2013 – Arrival of Stella in Darwin
On Tuesday Stella drove her first meters in Darwin, Australia. The trip from Eindhoven, The Netherlands to Darwin through the sky and by road was a nice test. In order to transport Stella safely, she was rigidly packed in a box. Some bolts faced some vibration loosening during transport, as expected – and quickly fixed.
The next day we exposed the solar cells to the Australian sun for the first time, with promising results! The captured solar energy is significantly more than in the Netherlands.
One of our battery packages, which couldn’t be sent to Australia as one piece because it is too large, is mechanically assembled by our engineers. The last few things will be done tomorrow and afterwards, when everything works fine, we are ready to start testing.
Update July 16, 2013 – Presentation of the solar family car Stella in Eindhoven
Students from Eindhoven University of Technology recently unveiled the world’s first solar-powered family car. The car, named ‘Stella’, will participate in the World Solar Challenge 2013, a 3000 km race from Darwin to Adelaide in Australia, taking place from 6 to 13 October. By employing lightweight materials, highly efficient solar panels and featuring an aerodynamic design, Stella is also the world’s first energy-positive car – meaning it generates more energy than it uses, which can then be sold back to the grid.
But Stella is much more than a light aerodynamic chassis with advanced solar panels attached to its roof – it also features a wide range of other cutting edge technologies. It relegates today’s dashboard buttons and dials to history with a LED strip and touch screen. It also features a steering wheel that expands or contracts when it is going too fast or too slow to help the driver intuitively keep the right speed. Stella was designed with real world use in mind. It was designed from the outset to be able to carry at least four people on a typical daily commute as well as being equally comfortable for a longer day trip from the Netherlands to France.
Stella will be participating in the World Solar Challenge’s new ‘cruiser class’ which is judged according to the number of people transported, the amount of electricity taken from the grid and user friendliness, as well as speed. This highlights an important evolution in solar car research as it is starting to move away from developing prototypes focused primarily on speed and more towards the practicalities of daily use. In fact, the student designers are aiming to have the car officially certified for road use.
While NXP is proud to sponsor this futuristic new car, we’ve gone one step further by providing our technology. Stella is fully wirelessly enabled, through our Car2Car technology which uses the specialist automotive Wi-Fi standard (ie. 802.11P), so it can transfer data with its mission control car to optimize car performance and ensure everything is running smoothly based on current road conditions.
This connected car technology is set to become central to the automotive industry by allowing vehicles on the road to automatically exchange information about their speed, position and direction in order to prevent accidents and traffic problems. It also lets them communicate with local infrastructure to determine the speed limit and the phasing and timing of cooperative traffic lights which is expected to significantly improve traffic flow in major cities while also reducing fuel consumption and emissions.
Stella also uses our LPC1759 microcontroller, which essentially powers the onboard computer, as well as our CAN (Controller Area Network) transceivers, which connect the various electronic devices and sensors that are integral to the modern car. In combination with the Car2Car technology, this means that the sensors monitoring important information like car speed and engine temperature can be monitored remotely by the mission control car.
As such, Stella is using the latest wireless and onboard computing devices that will transform the automotive industry in the coming years, as well as the solar technology that will transform how we travel a little further down the road. Fingers crossed that its superior technology will shine through in the World Solar Challenge in August by putting in a stellar performance!
Here are some photos of the Stella visit to the High Tech Campus and NXP HQ in Eindhoven on July 31!