emerging from the prototype vehicles lab (otherwise known as PROVE Lab) at california polytechnic state university, a group of students have created the first first vehicle designed only to break the solar-powered land speed record. the solar car is named ‘dawn’ and is designed to reach 65mph without any battery.

 

 

the vehicle, which is the result of two and half years of work, was designed using hundreds of hours of simulation, with some wind tunnel testing for the aerodynamics. the entire vehicle produces only a few kg of aerodynamic drag and is powered entirely by a 2kW solar array, which means there are no batteries used in the car unlike other solar cars designed for races across america or australia.

 

 

PROVE  lab‘s aim is to use ‘dawn’ to show the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of solar powered vehicles. although not a practical vehicle for production, the design nevertheless highlights advanced materials, aerodynamics, and innovation. the single electric motor is around 97% efficient, meaning almost all available power is converted to speed. the current world record for a purely solar-powered car is 56mph (90km/h). ‘dawn’ is specified to reach 65mph (105km/h), which is a typical freeway speed limit in america.

 

 

the vehicle has no steering wheel, and getting in and out of the car involves the top half pitching up and forward, like the hatch to a science-fiction creation. the team chose 605 individual sunpower solar cells to create their array – the same that were used to fly the solar impulse II aircraft around the world. these are similar to the kind that are often seen on rooftops around the world, and are fairly inexpensive technology in 2018.

 

 

every part on the car was designed and built by students including the software. most of the car’s construction is aerospace-grade carbon fiber, meaning that even with a driver the vehicle weighs less than 200kg in total, allowing it to rest on high performance bicycle wheels rather than conventional vehicle tires which would produce more resistance. a special flap on the upper surface (hidden by solar cells) will deploy if a sensor detects the car is starting to take off the ground at speed, and will kill the lift to keep the car on the ground and the driver safe.

 

video by PROVE lab

 

 

PROVE Lab is made up of over 60 students from 13 different college majors, meaning the project is run more like a startup car company. the driver is an aerospace engineering student, lacey davis, who has helped make many parts of the car and will pilot the record in june 2018. the team is able to use an air force base in palmdale, california and will wait until a time close to the maximum amount of solar available in june to make their record attempts – to be certified they must travel 1 mile in both directions within an hour. in the last 25 years only 3 cars have set this record, and PROVE lab aims to be the 4th.

here

 

 

designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers

 

edited by: kieron marchese | designboom

  • Congratulations to Lacey and the PROVE team, ‘Dawn’ is one cool-looking futuristic vehicle! We’re going to be talking about the Future of Composites in Transportation at our Navy Pier Chicago event in June, would be great to have a visit from Dawn to show off just how good advanced materials and light weighting can look.

    JEC Composites says:
  • JEC – June is when our world record runs will be taking place, but let us know if there’s a future event or way we could partner with you after that, we’ll definitely be in the mood to show off the car!

    Prove Lab says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.

comments policy
LOG IN
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.

PRODUCT LIBRARY

a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

latest news