Eleanor: MIT's 90 mph solar-powered racecar

Posted by Samantha Rose Hunt

Boston (MA) - The latest among the solar race car designs produced by MIT looks outrageous, and directly from space, however it is capable of achieving speeds of up to 90 mph and is equipped with technology that could eventually reach the EV's and hybrids that many of us will actually drive.







The Solar Electric Vehicle Team at MIT, the oldest of its type in the country, has produced a $243,000 carbon-fiber race car named Eleanor. The team debuted its design last Friday. Eleanor operates on a 580 silicon solar cell array manufactured by Sun Power.



Later in the year, Eleanor will compete later in the tenth World Solar Challenge -- which is a 2,000 mile, seven-day race across the Australian outback where sunlight is high, as are atmospheric temperatures.



The competition is designed to test the batteries, power-management systems and motor technology that could potentially be used in hybrids and electric vehicles. The solar challenge aids in developing many vehicles which ultimately wind up with their technology showcased on showroom floors.



This will be MIT's 10th time in the race since 1987. Because drivers are no longer allowed to stretch out in the vehicles and are instead required to sit upright, the Eleanor is taller than previous cars, but still just as aerodynamic. The vehicle, which took six months to design, was fine-tuned in a wind tunnel owned by Ford Motor Company. When a vehicle is aerodynamically efficient, its energy economy is greatly extended, and in this case that means longer battery life and faster speeds.