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Solar-powered challenge heats up

  • Australian eco race
  • UK entry capable of 60mph
  • Technology will benefit conventional cars
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A car race with a difference has got underway in Australia, with the entrants using nothing but solar power to propel their vehicles the 2000 miles from Darwin to Adelaide.

This is the fifth running of the World Solar Challenge, where Australia's hot outback sun means that the quickest vehicles can average up to 500 miles a day using nothing more than electrical energy generated by photovoltaic solar cells.

British car capable of up to 60mph
The sole British entry among the 35 teams is the Cambridge University Eco Racing's 'Endeavour', which is capable of speeds of up to 60mph, while using no more energy than that consumed by a hairdryer.

The car uses an advanced cruise control system that takes account of the weather forecast. The team hopes that some of its advanced energy-saving technology will be incorporated into the design of conventionally powered cars.

With half of the race distance covered, Endeavour has travelled just 400 miles, while the leading car, Japan's Tokai Challenger, has managed 927miles.