Schulich Delta solar racer suns itself driving in Big Apple

Manhattan seems like one of the worst places imaginable for a solar-powered car because of the city's skyscrapers casting long shadows to block direct access to the sun's rays. The Schulich Delta solar racecar from students at the University of Calgary has no problem getting around the shaded Big Apple, though. On a perfectly sunny day, the 630-pound coupe's range is essentially limitless, and there was plenty of power to take Ars Technica for a ride at a more overcast time in a recent video.

The Schulich Delta focuses on maximizing efficiency for races but still seats two inside. To harvest more power on the move, the solar panels have a special coating that reflects the rays into the cells when the sun hits them at less optimum angles. A 14-kWh lithium-ion battery stores the energy and sends it to a pair of two-horsepower motors at the rear wheels. While that doesn't sound like much, the lightweight body allows the coupe to reach up to 35 miles per hour. Rather than traditional pedals, the driver uses dials to control acceleration and deceleration.

The fascinating thing about the University of Calgary's vehicle is that it almost seems usable by a regular person. The Schulich Delta certainly has compromises like a rock hard suspension and bare interior, but an adventurous buyer might accept those downsides for the potential to never have to refuel or recharge or anything. If the video above isn't enough, Ars Technica also has a story that goes into more detail about what it's like to experience the Schulich Delta as a passenger.

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