World Solar Challenge: Technical Innovation

Having discussed the “David Fewchuk Spirit of the Event” Award in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, I should say something about the CSIRO Technical Innovation Award as well. After all, technical innovation in sustainable transport is what the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge is really about. I should also note that, in the four races 2013–2019, Punch Powertrain (now Agoria) Solar Team have won the award twice.

2013 – Punch Powertrain (now Agoria) Solar Team

The Belgian car Indupol One finished sixth in 2013. It won the CSIRO Technical Innovation Award for its 3D-printed battery pack, which facilitated cooling of the 429 cells inside (I cannot find a photograph of the pack itself).

2015 – Solar Team Twente

Solar Team Twente won the award in 2015 for their SABINE (Solar Array Balancing Interface Not Expected), an improved MPPT system which handled shadows well (see here for a longer description in Dutch). SABINE helped Twente achieve second place.


Car photo: Anthony Dekker; Inset photo of SABINE: Patrick Ooms

2017 – Punch Powertrain (now Agoria) Solar Team

Punch Powertrain (now Agoria) won the award again in 2017 for their Geneva drive system to activate four-wheel steering. This allowed them to yaw the car during crosswinds, thereby gaining forward momentum by “sailing.” Blogger MostDece posted an illustrated explanation of the design at the time. Ironically, the regulations for 2021 have been altered to rule out such a design in future.

2019 – Kogakuin University Solar Team

Kogakuin finished fifth in 2019, in spite of crashing twice due to strong winds (see their dramatic after-race video here). They won the CSIRO Technical Innovation Award for their hydropneumatic suspension, which allowed height adjustment of the vehicle (see it in action here).

Also in 2019, Top Dutch Solar Racing won the inaugural Excellence in Engineering Award, for their beautifully constructed car (which came fourth):


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