While most of the car tech attention in the Northern hemisphere is focused on the forthcoming DARPA Urban Challenge, a very different--but equally compelling--challenge is about to start in Australia. Next week, 41 teams from around the world will line up to compete in the 2007 Panasonic Solar Challenge, an 1,800-mile race from Darwin to Adelaide. As the event's name suggests, competing cars have only one source of fuel for the cross-continental race: the sun.
One of the brightest U.S. hopes for the contest is the University of Michigan Solar Car Team, a four-time winner of the North American solar challenge, which will be entering the Continuum (pictured), a stingray-shaped single-seater that can reach speeds of as fast as 70 mph.
For the 2007 Solar Challenge, the race organizers have limited the size of solar cell clusters on each car to reduce the speeds at which the cars travel. According to this video, the Continuum is trying to compensate for this regulation through use of a "solar concentrator system", which uses mobile parabolic mirrors to reflect sunlight onto the solar-cell array. The week-long 2007 Panasonic Solar Challenge race starts on the 21 October.