Solar energy vehicle makes progress at Stanford University

Solar Energy Vehicle

Students advancing on solar energy vehicle project

A group of students from Stanford University have been working on a new type of vehicle that will be powered by alternative energy. While this is not a new concept in the realm of transportation, these students are not focusing on hydrogen fuel cells or lithium-ion batteries, both of which are currently exceedingly popular in the auto industry. Instead, these students have set their sights on solar energy to power their ambitious new vehicle.

Solar energy continues to be a fringe interest in transportation

Solar-powered vehicles are, themselves, nothing new. There have been several attempts in the past to create a feasible vehicle that makes use of solar energy. Most of these attempts have produced modest results that have struggled to gain traction anywhere but with their creators. The auto industry itself has only shown marginal interest in solar energy as a power source for vehicles, favoring traditional forms of energy and hydrogen fuel cells for the purpose of transportation. Stanford University students are not aiming to revolutionize the auto industry with their new vehicle, but are keen to show that solar energy could actually be viable for transportation at some point in the future.

Team makes significant progress on the body of the vehicle

Last week, before the team broke away from Stanford University in order to enjoy their winter break, students gathered to work on the project and finish some of the vehicle’s structure. The team made significant progress on fashioning the vehicle’s top shell, which is made of carbon fiber. The team is currently absorbed in the work being done on the vehicle’s body, which is more than just a protective cover for the driver. The body will support several solar panels that will collect and generate the energy that is needed to power the vehicle.

VAIL continues to break ground in innovative transportation technology

The team is part of the Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Lab (VAIL) of Stanford University. VAIL offers students with an opportunity to get hands-on experience with vehicle engineering and research in new forms of transportation. In the past, projects from VAIL have participated in challenges from DARPA and the Department of Energy.

Which type of energy do you think will dominate the world's needs/industry in 10 years?

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