Visitors at the Circuit of The Americas have a habit of looking at powerful Formula 1 cars that zoom across the track in a matter of minutes. In June this year, conditions will be a lot different, as authorities have announced that the circuit will be hosting the Formula Sun Grand Prix. This will be the first time solar-powered cars, designed and built by university students will run on a Formula 1 racetrack.
The competition will challenge students to address the areas of energy management, aerodynamics, fabrication and the use of high-tech materials. The University of Texas at Austin Solar Vehicles Team (UTSVT) will serve as the local university host for the event and will organize a variety of activities for the participating teams. The student-run organization is committed to developing solar powered electric vehicles that represent their team during international solar car competitions.
The Formula Sun Grand Prix is an annual collegiate solar car track event and before arriving at the track, teams will have to design and build solar powered vehicles that have to be in accordance with the event regulations. Upon arrival, all solar cars will have to go through an inspection process, the successful completion of which guarantees an entry onto the track. Just like the cars at the track will be different than the usual which race here, the challenge is different too. Here teams will aim to complete as many laps as possible during the designated driving hours each day, making energy management critical for the teams, since they will have limited solar charging time in the morning and evening each day. After three days of on-track competition, the team logging the maximum number of laps will be declared the winner.