We are Western Sydney University's solar car team, a group of 22 students who are about to head on a 3,000km journey through the Aussie Outback from Darwin to Adelaide as part of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. We’re coming to you from Hidden Valley racetrack just outside of Darwin, where we qualified 3rd fastest for tomorrow’s race start.

The biennial event is in its 30th year, and now has three different classes of vehicle competing, but we’re competing in the (fastest) Challenger class. Our team of 22 takes care of everything from the design of the car to the build and marketing to tedious administration. And, of course, posing for photos for proof!

Ask us anything!

Thanks so much guys, we're going to finish up in a couple of minutes. We've got some last minute tinkering to do before we hit the road tomorrow morning. Thanks for all your questions!

Comments: 253 • Responses: 12  • Date: 

EskiciDukkani115 karma

1- What is your target average speed through the outback, roughly?

2- Probably you take weather conditions into account. How do you do that, do you just use the public weather forecasts, or do you have other data sources?

(Congrats on your great performance in the qualification laps. I know it is hard, but hopefully you'll be able to shake the solid Delft / Tokai reign a bit. Seems like a tight race already. Enjoy!)

a former member (2013) of ITU Solar Team, Turkey

BWSC_WSU110 karma

Thanks for the kind words!

1- It's kinda a closely-held secret, but we'll be looking at averaging between 70-90kmh depending on weather conditions. 2- We use a few sources, one of our main ones is Weatherzone who is one of our main sposnsors. They've given us a forecast for the entire event. So we've taken that into consideration with our planning.

See you in Adelaide!


Can I ask two questions? I will anyway. Three actually if that last one counts.

Does the car have a name and what were the runner up names you tossed around?

BWSC_WSU101 karma

It does actually, it's called Unlimited 2.0

We did throw around Crimson, Radiance, Endeavour and Arbitrium (which is 'diligence' in Latin)


What happened to unlimited 1? :(

BWSC_WSU68 karma

We actually used it as our test car for this year...the original Unlimited (2015) and Solace (2013's entry) have both been on display at various points. Although we now plan to get them fully working once again.

seanmonaghan196899 karma

How has solar efficiency changed for your your vehicle vs those produced say 10 years ago?

BWSC_WSU85 karma

It would be pretty significant, I think it would have increased by about a third over that time. We've only been in the competition for 6 years (3 races) and we would have had increases of about 2-3% just with our car over that time.

The main place that we make up efficiency is the way in which we encapsulate the cell, moreso than the cell itself. Which helps us capture energy from sunlight that hits the cells at different angles. That being said, we've also seen some huge jumps in efficiency over the past decade!

seanmonaghan196819 karma

Are you using the same materials in building your vehicle vs when you started, how has overall vehicle weight changed?

BWSC_WSU57 karma

We're still using carbon as the main material for the chassis, although for the suspension we're using aluminium this time.

The rules have dictated that the area of solar panels have to be smaller, which means that we have a much smaller vehicle this time around. I think the first car we entered was 324kg, this time around our car weighs in at 158kg.

seanmonaghan196818 karma

Wow that is a massive improvement. Great work!

BWSC_WSU15 karma



Awesome. Why'd you put the cabin (if that's what you call it) on the side?

BWSC_WSU81 karma

Good question, we don't really know what we call it either...maybe cockpit, driver's compartment?

The simple answer is that it's because of the position of the motor. It's better if the motor is closer to the driver for better force distribution. If you think about how light the car is, a lot of the weight is the driver's, so we need to consider that.

hey_botham28 karma

How hot does it get for the driver in the cockpit? Is there a maximum amount of time you can drive for?

BWSC_WSU46 karma

There's not actually a maximum amount of time that the driver can drive for, although the farthest distance one person can drive for is 400km (which is about 5ish hours).

We think that it might get to about 60 degrees Celcius at its worst. Very hot!

hey_botham16 karma

Another question, sorry! Do you think we could see solar panels attached to electric cars sometime soon?

BWSC_WSU33 karma

Definitely! The main challenge now is the cost. It's not worth it with the cost of PV cells, unfortunately. The price of PV cells makes sense for your house given that you keep the house for a lot longer than you keep the car. So the numbers don't weigh up this stage, but we will definitely see it in the future as photovoltaic cells get cheaper, maybe 10-20 years time?

niknieb27 karma

Out of the 22 of you, who is a Carrie? Samantha? Etc?

BWSC_WSU41 karma

Hahaha. I'll give you a sensible answer, I'm not going to throw anyone under the bus! I will say that the electrical engineers and the IT guys are the most easily embarrassed, and quiet (maybe that makes them the Charlottes?)

The mechanical engineers are always the most laid back...such Samanthas!

AskMeAboutMySmell-7 karma

I wish you the best of luck.

I heard that there was a lady in 'stralia that had her baby eaten by dingos.

Are you worried that you might run into a pack of dingos?

Also, do you say mate?

Best of luck from the states!

BWSC_WSU4 karma

Well I'm from Brazil, so I actually say 'friend' because I was taught North American English!

We'll try and steer clear of the dingos, although we do have to camp on the side of the road overnight!

jonakajon2 karma

Nah, mate. The other way around. A baby ate my dingo. It was a good pet.

AskMeAboutMySmell0 karma

Those damn babies!

BWSC_WSU2 karma

Gotta look out for those babies!