The World Solar Challenge
is back for its tenth outing across the wilds of Australia
this October. Students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are the only ones to have competed in every single running and Eleanor is their tenth such effort. This Eleanor is nothing like the 1968 Mustang
in the movie Gone in 60 Seconds
. This sleek single seater is designed to slip through the atmosphere with absolute minimum of resistance and extract the maximum amount of work from every photon absorbed by the solar panels on its carbon fiber and kevlar body. Such tech doesn't come cheap: Eleanor cost $243,000 to build. The solar racer spent many hours in the Ford
wind tunnel and it paid off with a drag coefficient of just 0.11. The 6 sq meters of solar panels can generate up to 1,200 W to propel the 500 lb car. Come October, the MIT team will be trying for their first victory with Eleanor.