Xenith – Click above to watch video after the jump

Tipping the scales at a scant 375 pounds, the solar-powered Xenith has a 4-inch thick thin chassis made of a blend of carbon fiber, titanium and aluminum. A novel steering system puts the driver in control of the front wheel, while a computer steers the two rear wheels. The result: a spaceship-like vehicle that has less aerodynamic drag than a rider on a bicycle. That's not bad for a vehicle that can cruise continuously at 55 miles per hour fueled only by the sun.

The Xenith, as this thing is called, was unveiled last Thursday by Stanford University, after two years in the making. The team will be competing in the prestigious World Solar Challenge this fall, putting Xenith to the ultimate test in a 2,000-mile trek across the Australian continent. For the 20-member team, heading off to Australia for the 11th World Solar Challenge will be the thrilling and tumultuous end to a long voyage. Once Down Under, the Xenith will be pitted against 30 vehicles, including solar-powered rides from 20 other countries. If victorious, then Stanford University will become the first American team to win the the race since 1987. Hit the jump to catch video of the powered-by-the-sun Xenith in action.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 28 Comments
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      too heavy, not aerodynamic enough. wheels are much too wide and conventional. I imagine similar inefficiency throughout. if you want to optimize you have to optimize. you have question everything. why is it this way. is that optimal within reason. if allowed you could even have a blind cockpit and drive by cameras for the aerodynamic advantage that gives plus more surface for cells. etc etc
        Timo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        You are joking, right? "Not aerodynamic enough"?? Please tell us how you make a mobile solar panel any more aerodynamic. Or lighter while still having equally efficient solar panels in it.
          Chris M
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Timo
          Not joking, just a joke. Only in DanWorld are there needle shaped cars with featherweight solar panels and weighing less than an inflated balloon. Pop! But real engineers have to work in the real world and deal with such annoyances as reliability, durability, safety, and cost constraints - none of which is found anywhere in DanWorld.
        Spec
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        " too heavy, not aerodynamic enough." LOL . . . you all knew it was coming and DF never fails to deliver.
          Chris M
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          As predictable as ever - I figured he'd say something that stupid even before looking at comments.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        summary: nothing is good enough for this pseudo-engineer
        fly by wireless
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        Either DF's account has been hacked or spoofed or this is a new low...
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 3 Years Ago
      Anything's more aerodynamic than a bike, lol. 55mph running on the sun is actually super impressive.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I hate it, when (undergraduate) students get research projects to experiment on. Is this what the world has come to, students learning things? What's next, DARPA in sole pursuit of knowledge for technology that may or may not be needed? Seriously speaking, that's excellent work. A concept study that cost USD 500K, when making concept study for automotive industries would otherwise cost about USD 3-5M. That is a one-off working prototype such as this one. Dan F., Timo et al, search a few million in research funds and show what you've got.
        Timo
        • 3 Years Ago
        Another one that has got these confused with cars. This has nothing to do with automotive industry (except maybe some sponsor). Give me that 500K and I'm certain I could do something more useful with it, like that Electric raceabout. Your nic gives indication that you know something about solar radiation. Do some math and tell me could you move a real car with solar radiation alone.
      Edge
      • 3 Years Ago
      Reading some of the comments below, all I can say is RELAX. These are students learning about engineering. It's not Ford's next car. It's a fun competition, for the students to enjoy, and learn teamwork.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Awesome work!
      Timo
      • 3 Years Ago
      These unsafe aerodynamically shaped solar panel movers are not cars by any usual definition of a car. This one is tricycle, so it doesn't even have four wheels.
        Spec
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Timo
        I don't believe anyone suggested using it as an everyday passenger vehicle. It is a research project but it does provide help in designing everyday vehicles. It helps show the areas where performance improvement can be achieved. And which areas are most ripe for the picking (aerodynamics? motor efficiency? weight? battery energy density?)
          Ryan
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          I wouldn't mind using it to travel around Australia, Europe or Canada. Just get the big trucks and faster cars off the same roads, and this type of solar powered vehicle would be fine to take 'free' trips in. Well, maybe it would need a few modifications to allow you to carry some luggage...
          Timo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          @Ryan, that's exactly my point. You confuse these with cars, and those are not. It doesn't matter if you would like to have one, if just doesn't work in real life as a car. This "car" is as aerodynamic as it is because IT HAS TO. Without extreme lightweight, no cargo room, low rolling resistance and extreme aerodynamics it wouldn't be able to do what it does. And what it does is just go paved flat roads in bright sunlight and only in sunlight. If you try that same in Europe, you wouldn't get much anywhere. Even less in Canada. Fact about physics around sun radiation energy is just that it is not enough to carry much anything anywhere fast. That's a fact. It is not nice fact but it is a fact.
          Ryan
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          I wouldn't mind using a solar powered car to travel around Australia, Europe or Canada. It would need to travel on different routes than big trucks and fast cars. And you might need to modify it to carry some luggage though...
          Timo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          I don't think you can get any useful info from those vehicles to ordinary everyday vehicles. They have useless power source, their aerodynamics are way beyond what can be used in ordinary vehicles, even their tires are useless for everyday vehicles. You learn more from electric airplanes than these. As a science experiment about solar panel efficiency, why not make it fun race, just stop calling them cars. They make fun races in scrapheap challenge too, even build a jet engine out of scrap. Not that it has any real use but this is pretty similar case of not having any real use, so they are comparable.
        BipDBo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Timo
        Yeah, and it doesn't even have heated seats or wi-fi. Who cares? It's bad-ass.
      Timo
      • 3 Years Ago
      Regular race cars could be used in normal life, and regular race car technology works in ordinary cars. These solar panel movers are not cars, that's the point. Stop calling them cars, because they have nothing in common with cars. You could as well call any tricycle a car, if it is motorized with battery-electric motor or with combustion engine it would have much more common with cars than these have. H*ll even electric wheelchair is closer to car than these are.
      Ele Truk
      • 3 Years Ago
      @Timo: And regular race cars are completely useless in normal life. So what's your point? This is about competition, and real life seldom applies to competition. Yea, you can buy a car that goes 0-60 in 3 seconds, but in real life do you need that?
      Timo
      • 3 Years Ago
      I care. These solar racers are completely useless in normal life, and give very wrong idea to people what you can and what you cannot do with solar power. Those are not cars. Those are not even bicycles or scooters or anything with a real purpose. There is zero cargo capacity, zero safety and pretty much zero capability to navigate in real-life roads. Calling them "cars" is just wrong. These things are toys at best. Total waste of time and effort. Though people do follow tour de doping too so maybe those have some entertainment value to someone.
      paulwesterberg
      • 3 Years Ago
      @Eric Loveday: There are bicycles that are more aerodynamic than this vehicle. https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Velomobile
      letstakeawalk
      • 3 Years Ago
      To be fair - and as a bicyclist - the average bike isn't very aerodynamic at all. A Hummer H2's Cd is 0.57, and an average bike with rider is around 0.7.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 3 Years Ago
        @letstakeawalk
        I knew a bicycle was bad, but not that bad.. above 25mph the eBike really starts wasting energy to conquer aerodynamics. At 18mph i am using 1 AH to go 2 miles.. at ~35mph, i am using 1 AH to go 1 mile.. O_O
          mchlrus1
          • 3 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          Ya on my Honda Ruckus, to optimize efficiency, I use a glass wind deflector, because the glass is more aerodynamic that a human body get 2 more MPGs 100 to 102 MPG.
      fairfireman21
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is great work. Nice job and 55 mph impressive. I like seeing this type of stuff.
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