Reposted with permission from Gigaom.
Will we ever be able to live in a world powered by the sun? Solar Team Eindhoven, made up of students from Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, has solved a crucial part of going solar: a solar-powered car that comfortably seats a family of four.
Named Stella after the Latin word for “star,” the proof-of-concept vehicle comes equipped with solar cells that actually collect more energy than is used by the car’s engine, sharing surplus solar energy back to the power grid. The car’s development began just last September, and the group of 22 students across multiple disciplines of the Eindhoven University of Technology built the solar-powered car from the ground up in only six months.
The materials used on the Stella’s body — carbon and aluminum — work in combination with its bullet-like aerodynamic design to maximize efficiency without sacrificing space. In addition to powerful generators and a futuristic look, the car can seat a family of four, has enough room for a trunk and even has a smart steering wheel that expands or contracts depending on how fast the car is going (a sign that the driver is either too fast or too slow). The solar-powered car, which has a range of 600 kilometers or roughly 372 miles, doesn’t have a top speed available and isn’t likely to breeze past the one currently parked in your driveway. However, Solar Team Eindhoven does have plans to make the Stella officially street legal.
Solar Team Eindhoven, which has continued to document the Stella’s development on its team website, will now move into final tests for the vehicle before entering the 2013 World Solar Challenge in Australia this October. The car will compete in the “Cruiser” class, which pits other solar-powered vehicles against each other in a 3,000 kilometer race across the Australian outback that puts more emphasis on efficiency and ease of use than speed. After the competition, the Stella will tour Dutch schools to promote STEM education in the country.