Sun-po­we­red vehi­cles de­fy a rai­ny day ra­ce

Knysna-Plett Herald - - News - - S­taff re­por­ter

Re­si­dents of Sed­ge­field we­re in for a so­lar-po­we­red kick last week w­hen the Slow To­wn ser­ved as star­ting point in a leg of the 2018 Sa­sol So­lar C­hal­len­ge.

On F­ri­day 28 Sep­tem­ber, ni­ne so­lar cars from all a­round the wor­ld, in­clu­ding South A­fri­ca, set out on­ce a­gain to cha­se the A­fri­can sun on SA’s be­st ro­ads.

The c­hal­len­ge star­ted in P­re­to­ria on Sa­tur­day 22 Sep­tem­ber, and top te­ams had com­ple­ted mo­re than 3 500km by the ti­me they re­a­ched Sed­ge­field. Te­ams ca­me from SA, S­wit­zer­land, Ja­pan, Hong Kong and The Net­her­lands.

Af­ter a stor­my start in Sed­ge­field, com­pe­ti­tors he­a­ded to­wards S­wel­len­dam, with big storms and strong winds, which cle­a­red up by Mos­sel Bay, but it ma­de for a tough first sta­ge on the day. The c­hal­len­ge for fourth pla­ce would ta­ke pla­ce be­t­ween SA’s Tshwa­ne U­ni­ver­si­ty of Techno­lo­gy (TUT) and North-West U­ni­ver­si­ty. The front­run­ners at that sta­ge we­re the te­ams from the Net­her­lands and Ja­pan.

To­get­her, the ni­ne te­ams com­pe­ting t­his y­e­ar dro­ve 16 249.1km, stop­ping in 18 towns on so­lar e­ner­gy on an e­pic ro­ad trip be­t­ween P­re­to­ria and S­tel­len­bosch. Al­ong the way, kids don­ned vir­tu­al re­a­li­ty he­ad­sets for an in-car ex­pe­rien­ce, cars bro­ke do­wn, so­lar pa­nels blew off, and te­ams pus­hed the cars they'd built with their own hands to the ex­tre­me.

With ma­jor glo­bal techno­lo­gy spon­sors, the­se te­ams are at the cut­ting ed­ge of techno­lo­gy de­ve­lop­ment. Dutch te­am Nu­on tes­ted se­mi-au­to­no­mous sy­s­tems, Ja­pa­ne­se te­am To­kai con­ti­nues to push bat­te­ry te­chde­ve­lop­ment in their mul­ti-mil­li­on dol­lar C­hal­len­ger, and SA te­am NWU built a u­ni­que so­lar pa­nel that could ro­ta­te to fol­low the sun whi­le dri­ving.

Dutch te­am Nu­on won the 2018 Sa­sol So­lar C­hal­len­ge in S­tel­len­bosch, clocking 4 030.4km. Their c­lo­se ri­vals from Ja­pan, te­am To­kai, com­ple­ted 3 941.4km. The top SA te­am TUT tra­vel­led a full 2 397km on SA ro­ads, nar­ro­w­ly be­a­ting NWU's 2 276.3km.

P­ho­to: Wal­do S­wie­gers

Dutch te­am Nu­on ce­le­bra­tes their vic­to­ry.

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