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International recognition for IVE Solar Car at World Solar Challenge 3000 km adventures showcase how far SOPHIE has come
  • <p>SOPHIE’s proven long-range performance, aside from racing, clearly demonstrates that VPET has empowered today’s youth to design and built a viable means of ‘green’ transportation</p>
  • <p>SOPHIE’s proven long-range performance, aside from racing, clearly demonstrates that VPET has empowered today’s youth to design and built a viable means of ‘green’ transportation</p>
  • <p>SOPHIE’s proven long-range performance, aside from racing, clearly demonstrates that VPET has empowered today’s youth to design and built a viable means of ‘green’ transportation</p>
  • <p>SOPHIE’s proven long-range performance, aside from racing, clearly demonstrates that VPET has empowered today’s youth to design and built a viable means of ‘green’ transportation</p>
  • <p>SOPHIE’s proven long-range performance, aside from racing, clearly demonstrates that VPET has empowered today’s youth to design and built a viable means of ‘green’ transportation</p>
  • <p>SOPHIE’s proven long-range performance, aside from racing, clearly demonstrates that VPET has empowered today’s youth to design and built a viable means of ‘green’ transportation</p>
  • <p>SOPHIE’s proven long-range performance, aside from racing, clearly demonstrates that VPET has empowered today’s youth to design and built a viable means of ‘green’ transportation</p>

SOPHIE’s proven long-range performance, aside from racing, clearly demonstrates that VPET has empowered today’s youth to design and built a viable means of ‘green’ transportation

Dec 2017

Aimed at striving for excellence—the IVE Solar Car, SOPHIE, has developed into its sixth generation after eight years of continuous effort. The team has excelled themselves and proved their real ability to the World by accomplishing a 3,000km journey with honours as the 3rd Runner Up in the Cruiser Class of the World Solar Challenge (WSC). Looking back, the SOPHIE Team has concluded three main factors contributed to their success in the international arena: industry collaborations, inter-institutional support and team spirit. Without all of them, the legend of SOPHIE VI would not exist.

 

This year marked the second attempt of SOPHIE to compete in the cruiser class of the WSC. When SOPHIE V was entered in the 2015 competition, she weighed about 400kg and was quite heavy as compared with entries from the other top teams. Given this, reducing weight has been the key focus for SOPHIE VI. Team member Tony Wong Shek Ho explained, "We worked with Ka Shui on the use of magnesium alloys for the suspension and driveshaft enabling us to shave 80kg off the overall weight." Team manager Ir Peter Tang Siu Sing, Deputy Academic Director (Engineering) of VTC, noted another major enhancement regarding vehicle power, “We have been able to enhance battery performance further with technical support from industry. SOPHIE’s batteries are the same type as utilised by the other top teams, however, ensuring manufacturing consistency in the bonds between the cells and the structural arrangement is key to raising their efficiency and safety. We have made enormous strides in enhancing these bonds to ensure even transfer of energy and the batteries are now close to 98% efficiency, up 6% from last year.” Team member Alex Lok Wai Kuen highlighted that Bridgestone, the tyre sponsor, provided not only custom-made solar racing tyres for SOPHIE but also international industry recognition of the team’s achievements to date. He said, “Industry collaboration is critical to create a more powerful SOPHIE, not just regarding technical and monetary assistance, but also in boosting our morale.”

A very noteworthy point is the inter-institutional support that has helped keep the team moving forward. Ben Lee Kin Hong is a team member working on the carbon fibre lay-up processes for the manufacture of SOPHIE's bodywork. He explained, "Working in conjunction with RMIT University in Australia on wind tunnel tests we have been able to fine-tune the overall car body design to make it as aerodynamic as possible according to test data obtained.” On the other hand, Alex—who is fluent in Japanese—also helped line up connections with Japanese motor manufacturers and universities to gain further insights to help with SOPHIE’s development. He added, "During my study exchange in Nagano, I studied the protocol behind wireless communication which was one of the most valuable insights I brought to the team. With this knowledge, we enhanced communication between the control car and SOPHIE with a steady data supply to analyse and determine the best race strategy.”

The team had to overcome a multitude of challenges during the 3,000km race. The unstable weather condition in the Australian outback added further difficulties that tested the team to their limits. As solar-vehicle competitions are all about chasing the sun, a critical time came on day three of the race when there was a large thunderstorm. With the limited sunlight, many teams fell behind on that day—unable to harness sufficient energy, and many teams were disqualified—unable to reach that day’s check-point before the cut-off. In contrast, the SOPHIE team members stayed highly focused on facing the unexpected challenges with everyone performing their role well and shouldering extra workload whenever others were not able to do so. Tony emphasised, “Our team spirit allowed SOPHIE to soldier on relentlessly.”

When the SOPHIE project started in 2009, no one could have guessed just how far she would progress. Ir Tang commented, “From those small beginnings we are now at the stage where we can drive SOPHIE 3,000km without ever having to put her on the trailer even in adverse weather. The driving range of today’s mass-produced electric vehicles is only around 400km on around 80 kilowatt-hours battery capacity, but SOPHIE can manage over 3,000km on just 45 kilowatt-hours of external energy—a huge difference. That’s the beauty of solar power and everything the IVE engineering team has achieved to date with SOPHIE.” The team, looking ahead, will increase its focus on two key elements: new energy and the new generation. Team member Anna Cheung Ki Ki, a key advocate of this new energy, explained, “We have devoted ourselves to this competition because we also want to raise awareness among the next generation about the importance of adopting new technology to help leverage renewable energies like solar.”  

SOPHIE’s proven long-range performance, aside from racing, clearly demonstrates that VPET has empowered today’s youth to design and built a viable means of ‘green’ transportation to drive humanity forward. A greener future lies in the hands of the new generation and, for sure, the SOPHIE team will not stop here. Ready to shoulder the mission to inspire tomorrow’s youth, they will continue to promote green transportation throughout Hong Kong.

 

Professor Cliff CHAN – Chairman, TeleEye Founders’ Charity Foundation Ltd

“The SOPHIE team showed typical Hong Kong spirit and sportsmanship. All members were well-organised, dedicated, hardworking and able to fight against all the odds throughout their journey. The SOPHIE project is indeed a great example showing how Vocational and Professional Education and Training (VPET) empower today’s youth and transforms them into tomorrow’s  professionals!”

 

Mr LEE Yuen Fat, Chairman – Ka Shui International Holdings Ltd.

“The SOPHIE project demonstrates the innovative potential and technical capability of IVE students. Their passion in engineering will certainly help drive Hong Kong to a better and greener future.”  

 

Mr Andrew YUE – Managing Director, Tong Seng Co Ltd

“The success of SOPHIE is a collaborative synergy between academic institutions and industry. We are so proud to be one of the partners supporting the SOPHIE VI’s development. Bridgestone and SOPHIE together shined in the WSC 2017—a collaboration that is a win-win situation for industry and academia.”

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