MIT Unveils 90 mph Solar Racer

A solar-powered car that can go 90 mph? Sweet!

MIT's latest solar race car might look like a funky Ikea table with a hump, but don't laugh. It'll do 90 mph and is packed with technology that may end up in the hybrids and EVs the rest of us will soon be driving.

The university's Solar Electric Vehicle Team, the oldest such team in the country, unveiled the $243,000 carbon-fiber racer dubbed Eleanor on Friday and is shaking the car down to prepare for its inaugural race later this year.

"It drives beautifully," said George Hansel, a freshman physics major at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the team. "It's fun to drive and quite a spectacle."

Eleanor is slated to compete in the tenth World Solar Challenge, a seven-day race across nearly 2,000 miles of Australian outback.


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LinuxH4x0r8 years ago
$243,000 Are you kidding? We have the tech do this for $20k
As a one-off custom job? Really?
not so much carbon fiber and a little creativity, and yes
The carbon fiber is there to keep the weight down. How would you do that for less, while maintaining structural integrity at 150 kph? I'm not asking rhetorically, I'm curious what material you'd choose that is as strong and lightweight, and still less expensive than a CF composite.
Emm DIY carbon fiber, perfectly possible, granted the styrofoam for the moulding wouldn't be easy to find. It's not that expensive. I imagine you could use some other strong fibers with resin - not to the same effect, but I've seen the effect of various materials fixed in resin, bog standard nylon was really strong...
what about spider spun silk? couldn't we use computers to reprogram a spider to only eat lab food and spray that stuff out? AI could do it...
You do realize the spider silk is, um, string, right? I dont understand how you propose to build a car out of it. I guess teh stuff is sticky enough, but I dont think it woudl have integrity. And just keeping the thousands of spiders needed would cost more than carbon fiber, I think.

A mix of aluminium, steel, and steel cables (minimal steel).
Aluminum is not as strong as carbon fiber composite for the weight. To get the same strength you need more material, which implies more drag for the vehicle. Steel is substatially stronger, but it still loses in terms of weight. You're correct that both of these solutions reduce the cost (not by an order of magnitude, though, probably just a factor of 2-3), but I'm not convinced you can achieve the same performance.
jotism kelseymh8 years ago
Yes, but if you used 50-50 aluminum and fiber glass then it would be stronger than 1 or the other.
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