July 24, 2024
Fin-Topped Solar Car

Belgium Emerges Victorious in Bridgestone World Solar Challenge with Innovative Fin-Topped Solar Car

In the recently concluded Bridgestone World Solar Challenge (BWSC), a team from Belgium has secured the top spot for the second consecutive time. This prestigious competition witnesses numerous pioneering solar vehicles racing across the challenging terrain of Australia.

Held every two years, the BWSC invites teams of engineers, predominantly comprising of students from around the globe, to develop and drive a solar-powered vehicle from Darwin to Adelaide – a distance that spans the entire breadth of Australia.

In the Challenger Class, which the Belgian team triumphed in, the single-seat vehicle is allowed to have only one driver at a time; however, drivers can be replaced up to six times as required. The race takes place daily from 8 AM to 5 PM, during which teams must be self-sufficient, camping out along the route at night and carrying all necessary equipment to maintain the vehicle’s functionality. If any driver weighs below 80 kg (176 lb), weights are added to meet the minimum requirement.

During the previous event in 2019, the Belgian team claimed the lead when the leading car, designed by a Dutch team, caught fire. In this year’s competition, which followed the cancellation of the 2021 event due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Belgian team named Innoptus managed to maintain a narrow lead over the Dutch team for the majority of the race, ultimately completing the course in an impressive time of 34 hours, 4 minutes, and 41 seconds. This marked an improvement from their 2019 time by nearly five minutes. The Dutch team, Twente, secured the second position with a time of 34 hours, 24 minutes, and 58 seconds.

Cars competing in the race must not exceed a length of 5 m (16 ft) or a width of 2.2 m (7.2 ft), and must have at least three wheels. The solar array powering these vehicles cannot be larger than 4 m2 (43 ft2), making every bit of sunlight crucial. However, this year’s contenders faced challenges due to the smoke generated by wildfires along the route.

Cedric Verlinden, the team manager of Innoptus, attributed their victory to their strategy across the 3,000 km journey, stating, “We arrived first in Adelaide because we followed our own strategy. We had to anticipate various factors, including bushfires, which resulted in reduced incoming power, as well as unpredictable elements like clouds and constantly changing weather. However, we managed to adhere to our strategy and anticipate accordingly, leading us to be the first across the finish line in Adelaide.”

The success of Innoptus can be partially credited to the unique fin installed atop their winning car named Infinite. The fin was specifically designed to enhance stability in the face of crosswinds, which were prevalent throughout the course.

Pauline Vanvuchelen, responsible for marketing at Innoptus, acknowledged the fierce competition from Solar Team Twente, stating, “Solar Team Twente definitely didn’t make it easy for us. We made every effort to maintain a lead of minutes until the end, and we succeeded. The fin was our secret weapon, and it proved to be highly effective.”

This triumph marks the 10th car designed by the Belgian team for the BWSC, a competition that has been running since 1987.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it