Students to embark on 3,000-km road trip in "solar house on wheels"
The Solar Team from TU Eindhoven has built a number of super-efficient, solar-powered vehicles over the years to compete in World Solar Challenges, and has now raised the roof on its latest design. The Stella Vita camper will hit the road later this month for a 3,000-kilometer trip through Europe.
The curvy concept built by the 22-strong student team is described as a kind of solar house on wheels, and has an 8.8 m2 (94 ft2) solar array on its roof that harvests energy for the 60-kWh Li-ion battery bank while it rolls along at up to 120 km/h (74.5 mph), but slide-out panels can fold out for a total canopy area of 17.5 m2 (188 ft2) when parked at camp.
Not only that, the vehicle has a pop-up roof so the driver and passenger can comfortably stand and move around inside, cook in the kitchen, or take a shower - with all of the Stella Vita's power needs, including the electric drive system, expected to be met by the solar system alone, so there shouldn't be a need to rely on charging infrastructure along the travel route.
In the cabin, the driver can keep watch over energy stats via the center display, and there's room in the center console for a portable Bluetooth speaker. In addition to driver and passenger doors, the vehicle has two large opposing doors behind the cabin that open the interior to light and air, while those folded-out panels can also provide a little shade when campers are seated outside.
As well as a compact kitchen block, the interior of the Stella Vita hosts L-shaped bench seating with integrated storage, a small dining table, shelving and cabinetry and a sleeping area. There's mention of a TV and coffee-making facilities too, but nothing about a built-in toilet.
In bright sunlight, Solar Team Eindhoven says that the vehicle could travel up to 730 km (453.6 miles) in a day, and that the range on a fully charged battery could see as much as 600 km (372.8 miles) of motoring by night.
To prove the concept's capabilities, team members are due to embark on a European Solar Tour. Setting off from Eindhoven in the Netherlands on September 19, the epic adventurers will head south through Zolder toward Brussels, where a stopover is planned. More stops are planned for Paris, Le Mans, Île de Ré, Bordeaux, Biarritz, Zaragoza, Madrid, Toledo, and Córdoba, with the 3,000-km (1,864-mile) journey coming to an end in the southern-most city in Spain, Tarifa, on October 15.
Readers can follow the adventures on the project website.
Source: TU Eindhoven