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CUT team keeps working on car

Despite the 2020 Sasol Solar Challenge (SSC) being postponed until early next year, the team from the Central University of Technology (CUT) will keep working on their new solar powered car, named Ntsu.

Dr Nicolaas Luwes, senior lecturer at the CUT’s Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering said Team Seilatsatsi will be back with a brand-new car after they first competed in the challenge in 2018.

“Before the national Covid-19 lockdown, the team had already started with design and scaled prototyping and was about 60% done with the final car. Designs and manufacturing are done by staff and students from the university.”

The event that was scheduled to take place in September, are now provisionally scheduled for 19 to 26 February 2021.

A team from the University of the Free State would have taken part for the first time this year, but lockdown took it’s toll on the project.

“We will take part in the next round,” Dr Hendrik van Heerden from the UFS team told Bloemnews.

More than a dozen teams of promising young engineers from around the world will take to South African highways, byways and back routes in a contest to cover the most distance without using a drop of fuel.

The Sasol Solar Challenge is renowned for being uniquely challenging due to the varying weather conditions and a total altitude drop of nearly 2 000 m, putting the often newly launched technology inside solar cars to the ultimate test.

Competitive solar cars should not only be powered by the sun, they also need to be lightweight, aerodynamic, efficient and safe.

The new 2021 route will bring more than a dozen cars from around the world – including new and experienced South African teams – to 15 towns.

The challenge will start in Pretoria and end in Stellenbosch.

Robert Walker, director and owner of the SSC said they are postponing the 2020 Sasol Solar Challenge out of concern for the well-being of participants and spectators.

“We realise there are challenges faced by teams around the world in working on their solar cars.”

Luwes said that in the 2018 SSC, the team won the community engagement award for demonstration of technologies to the schools along the route. They loaded 360° footage shots from the vehicle, to virtual reality headsets that young kids from towns along the route used to immerse themselves in the driving experience.

The new car will have a completely new chassis, aiming for reliability on uneven road surfaces.

The electronics is redesigned and many other features focused on reliability. The design incorporates 3D-printing of custom components.

Learn more about the challenge on the website solarchallenge.org.za.

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