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Solar-powered car SOPHIE VI developed by IVE emerges with flying colours in World Solar Challenge 2017 in Australia
Oct 2017

The Engineering Discipline of the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (IVE), a member institution of the Vocational Training Council (VTC), has completed the World Solar Challenge 2017 in Australia in fourth place in the Cruiser Class in their sixth-generation solar-powered car, SOPHIE VI. The only Chinese team competing in this biennial endurance test, SOPHIE VI beat strong contenders from the USA, Australia and Singapore.

Setting out from Darwin in the north on 8 October, the participating teams were required to reach nine control stops by a designated time, which meant hectic schedules for each section. Team members had to work around the clock, sharing the driving, solar car charging and other support work during the day, and doing speedy repair work in the evenings.

To achieve the best results, the IVE team put to use their cross-disciplinary knowledge and skills to optimise the new car’s body design and efficacy. The suspension system of SOPHIE VI is made of magnesium alloy, making its look more streamlined, its total weight 25% lighter and its wind resistance 10% lower than the previous edition. The cell weight of SOPHIE VI was halved by using more fuel-efficient tyres, which also greatly lessened electricity consumption.

The fickle desert climate and sudden downpours proved to be a big challenge in the race this time, but the more streamlined and compact design of SOPHIE VI, coupled with the team’s thorough preparations and timely responses, ensured that the IVE solar car was able to perform at its best. By the third day of the competition, only six participating teams out of 14 could still meet the Cruiser Class requirements and continue with the race. SOPHIE VI was one of them, finally completing the 3,000 Km of desert and rough terrain in the Australian outback in fourth place, having driven a longer distance than from Hong Kong to Beijing.

The biennial solar-powered car race brings together tertiary education institutes and enterprises from around the world. More than 40 teams from over 20 countries and regions have joined the last two World Solar Challenge contests, including the reputed education institutions like the University of Cambridge in the UK, Stanford University in the USA and Tokai University in Japan. SOPHIE was the only Chinese team. Participating teams need to spend five to six days driving across the unforgiving Australian outback, requiring grit and determination as well as professional knowledge.

 

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