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Transportation Australia Power

Solar Car Speed Record Smashed 72

An anonymous reader writes with word from Australia that "There's a new world record for the fastest solar-powered land vehicle: 88 km/h average speed over one kilometre in a lightweight car that uses about the same power as a toaster." As the article goes on to explain, this solar racer, built last year by students from the University of New South Wales, managed to nab that speed record earlier this month on an Australian navy base airstrip.
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Solar Car Speed Record Smashed

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  • by GigaplexNZ ( 1233886 ) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @02:16AM (#34963134)
    88km/h? If only they used a metric flux capacitor...
    • 88 km/h is very close to 55 MPH

      Toasters use about 1.5 kW which is about 2 horsepower. If one thinks in terms of doing work lifting without other losses, that works out to about 1100 foot-pounds per second.

    • I'm gutted about this post for two reasons. Firstly I wanted to make that joke, and secondly I think you might have buggered it up. Kilometers are metric so woudln't they have to use an imperial flux capacitor? Pedantic I know, but that's what I get like when someone beats me to a punchline!
      • The way I saw it, imperial speeds should be matched with imperial flux capacitors, and metric speeds matched with metric flux capacitors. To each their own.
        • Ah yes I see what you mean - you say tomato, I say tomato (you have to do the different pronunciation in your head there). One wonders how long we'll be plagued by competing measurement systems.
          • Well the US is the only country left using the imperial system, and even then most industry uses metric (all the bolts in your car are metric for example, regardless of where it was made). Get with the times!

            • SI is the official unit system of the US as well, but we've defined the old units in SI terms so we don't have to print new signs and whatnot. Most of the time it doesn't really matter, anyway. (and where it does, you see more of the metric units.)

              • Most of the time it doesn't really matter, anyway.

                Sure it does. When I visit the US I have no idea how fast I'm going, how far something is, or how warm it is inside or out. I'd say most of the time it really matters!

            • We still use miles in the UK too.

              • Yes but its being phased out. When the UK joined the EU, they agreed to adopt all the EU measures which are SI based.
                • We use metric measurements for stuff like measuring volumes and weights of food items etc, but we stil use miles as our official unit of distance on all road signs, and mph is the major unit on our speedometers. I've never seen any evidence that we have plans to change that, do you have any citations?

                  It would be quite a lot of effort and expense to change all our distance and speed limit signs. Not to mention we'd probably have to do it twice - once for dual units, then eventually after a few years switchin

      • No, Emitt "Doc" Brown, who invented the thing, did scientific and engineering research in Hill Valley, California over a period of over 100 years (non-consecutive). He would not have used the imperial system of measurement, ever, as California is a US state and would've used US standard units instead.

        US standard is similar to Imperial, but there are subtle differences. For instance, our gallons are a little bit leaner.

    • And according to the article, it uses only a little less than 1.21 KW...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 22, 2011 @02:18AM (#34963152)

    managed to nab that speed record earlier this month

    Kind of like how Slashdot covered [] it earlier this month?

  • He can't drive 55!

  • rules (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lehk228 ( 705449 ) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @02:27AM (#34963184) Journal
    are photovoltaics required? it would be fun to enter a steam engine / mirror driven vehicle, something large like the size of a tractor trailer with huge mirror collectors. it wouldn't be very fast but unlike the photocell models it could have an air conditioner and heater core.
  • "uses about the same power as a toaster" is a bit misleading. Try hooking up a generator and inverter to a bicycle frame, and powering that toaster. I'll watch.
    • by jovius ( 974690 )
      Toaster powered car would be awesome. Besides the exhaust projectiles could solve global starvation, unlike rocket exhaust fumes, for example.
    • Saw this in a science museum once. The setup you describe powering a CRT television. The TV needed 500 watts and I could just barely get it running. Electric bicycles in my state are limited to 200W by the way but they don't have to drag banks of photovoltaic cells around with them.

    • I don't see why 'same power as a toaster' is misleading - it's a comparison of power. What does your example prove?
      • The point I was trying to make is that a lot of people don't understand how much power a toaster needs to run. It's far from trivial.
    • Likewise, I would like to see you strap pedals to a drive train underneath that solar car, and powering it to 88 km/h for a kilometre; I'll watch.

      In the Autumn of 1985, at the International Human Powered Speed Championships, a fully-faired Moulton ridden by Jim Glover broke the 200 metres flying start speed record, at 50.21mph (80.79kph). Then on August 29th 1986, at the same event, he broke his own record at a speed of 51.29mph (82.54kph) which still stands today for the conventional riding position. [1] [].


      • by fizzup ( 788545 )

        Very few humans are capable of generating a kilowatt, and none of the ones that can do it are capable of doing it for 40 seconds (1km / 88km/h). Typically, people consume about 100 watts [] in food power. Generating ten times that power (mechanically) using just your legs is hard and unsustainable.

        So, you're saying that an engine incapable of generating 1kw can't push the test car as fast as an engine that is capable of generating 1kw at the drive axle (FTFA: 1050w * 0.98). Yes, you are correct.

  • uses about the same power as a toaster.

    Let me get this straight: I put my bread in this thing, and then instead of giving me my toast, it brings it a kilometer away and now I have to go get it? Worst toaster ever.

  • by jklovanc ( 1603149 ) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @03:46AM (#34963508)

    Com on guys can't you even to a simple search on past articles before posting a new one? This is the third time this week a duplicate article has been posted; two of them from this month.

    This is a duplicate of [] posted on January 9th.

    • You must be new here.
    • Off-the-wall theory: most dupes are on purpose. The second time around, people have had more time to think about (and maybe even read!) the article and initial responses, provoking more thoughtful replies. Probably not, though. :)

      • by Thing 1 ( 178996 )
        Having done no research, here's my thought: it's only the articles that receive fewer than "X" replies which are duped. (No idea what the value of "X" is.)
    • Com on guys can't you even to a simple search on past articles before posting a new one?

      Can't you? Do you know how many people have already pointed out that this is a duplicate post?

    • I, for one, welcome our dupe posting overlords...I missed the original.
  • 88kph on as much power as a toaster? That's nothing. We've had flying toasters for years... []

  • The Delft, the Neterlands "Nuna" solar car drives an average of around 100km/h over 3000km. []

    Ok. Due to an accident, they didn't win in 2009, and they didn't beat the Japanese (this time). But the Japanese verifiably averaged over 100km/h over that 3000 race, so I'm guessing they beat the 100km mark on some of those kilometers....

  • Call me when they achieve these speed records by increasing solar power yield and not by paring down the structure of the cars below the safety standards of soapbox derby racers.

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.