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Blue Sky Solar Racing team unveils new vehicle

B-7 features the latest advancements in photovoltaic technologies, a brand new aerodynamic design and improved vehicle dynamics systems, weighing about 20 per cent less than its predecessor (photos by Liz Do)

Intrepid U of T students have unveiled a new solar vehicle they hope will carry them more than 3,000 kilometres across the harsh Australian outback.

The car, called B-7, hit the track for the first time at a ceremony at Varsity Stadium on June 28.

U of T’s Blue Sky Solar Racing team has been working on the car for more than 18 months in preparation for their ultimate goal: a top-10 finish in the 2013 World Solar Challenge this fall.

Built and driven entirely by students, B-7 features the latest advancements in photovoltaic technologies, a brand new aerodynamic design and improved vehicle dynamics systems, weighing about 20 per cent less than its predecessor. Due to drastic changes in race regulations this year, B-7 is U of T’s first single-seater, four-wheeled solar car with an upright driver-seating position. At the last race in 2011, U of T placed 24 of 37 teams with their vehicle Azure.

“I’ve never been in the race before, and I don’t know what it will feel like,” said Zhe Gong of Electrical Engineering, Blue Sky’s electrical team lead. “Right now it feels pretty good.” Gong said the team spent the past five days preparing the solar array for installation, and they “pulled two all-nighters to install the panels.”

The World Solar Challenge begins October 6, 2013 in Darwin, in Australia’s Northern Territory, and snakes south across the continent, ending in Adelaide. Once the team reaches Australia, they will concentrate on testing the car and getting through the qualification rounds. About 50 teams from around the world are expected to participate.

“The Faculty is proud to support the Blue Sky project,” said Dean Cristina Amon of the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering. “But more than that, I’m extremely proud of the students' commitment, dedication and achievements, and look forward to cheering the team as it competes with the best in the world in October ‘down under.’”

The Blue Sky Solar Racing team poses with Dean Amon and Mechanical and Industrial Engineering professors Kamran Behdinan (one of the team's faculty advisors), Susan McCahan, vice-dean, Undergraduate, and Jean Zu, MIE chair.

Marit Mitchell is a writer with the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering at the University of Toronto.