ETH Zurich team in Australia: the self-built solar car is rolling successfully so far
3000 kilometres from Darwin in the north to Adelaide in the south - in five days and using only the power of the sun. The Swiss team is well on track with their car, christened "Aletsch".
This article was published on Tuesday. At this point, the "Alpha Centauri" team from ETH Zurich is still in the race. They are currently travelling through Australia with their car powered solely by solar energy. The World Solar Challenge is a car race in which no engines rattle. The only sound is the airstream.
50 teams have entered the race. All of them worked for months to build a car that pushes the boundaries of solar technology and electromobility. There is not a Tesla to be seen at the race, which takes place every two years. No car is a mass product. Instead, the teams tinkered with their own models. Including the team from Zurich. Their car is called "Aletsch", named after the largest Swiss glacier.
At the moment, it is still in the race. And that is certainly a success, as driver Jonas Rudin tells me in a WhatsApp chat. They are now the only one of the eight newcomer teams that have not yet been eliminated. There were difficulties along the way, but the mood was good and they were "extremely proud" to have already made it halfway through the outback. (The current times of the Swiss team and the ranking can be found here.)
One of the challenges so far has been a burst tyre on the open track. Changing the tyre took time, but the most important thing was that the race continued. And the team is not satisfied with just keeping the car running. As soon as the drive ends at 5 p.m. each day according to the regulations and the night camp is set up, the repairs and optimisations begin.
Sealing compound and foam rubber were used to plug holes in some areas that were disrupting the aerodynamics. The efficiency gain is around 30 per cent, says Jonas. "The car now drives like a champ." The team also noticed that the front wheels were not running completely parallel. This also cost speed - and was largely to blame for the tyre blowout.
"We're learning every day and making brutal improvements," says Jonas, summarising the race so far. Then he has given me enough information and has to go back to the others in the camp. "The kitchen fairy has conjured up some delicious food in the outback."
If you want to find out more about Alpha-Centauri-Solar-Racing, you can here or read older reports. If you would like to support the team financially, you can do so through the crowdfunding campaign. The team also regularly shares exciting insights via Instagram.Cover photo: Alpha Centauri
Journalist since 1997. Stopovers in Franconia (or the Franken region), Lake Constance, Obwalden, Nidwalden and Zurich. Father since 2014. Expert in editorial organisation and motivation. Focus on sustainability, home office tools, beautiful things for the home, creative toys and sports equipment.