The Design and Fabrication of “Texas Native Sun”, The University of Texas Entry in G.M. Sunrayce U.S.A., a Solar Powered Vehicle Race Across the United States
A team of student engineers at the University of Texas at Austin has designed and built “Texas Native Sun”, a solar powered vehicle for competition in GM Sunrayce U.S.A. The single-seat vehicle uses conventional photovoltaic solar cells to produce electricity for vehicle propulsion. The vehicle features graphite/epoxy composite monocoque construction, a high power-density permanent magnet electric motor, a mechanical/hydraulic continuously variable transmission, nickel-hydrogen satellite batteries, and a composite leaf spring suspension. The race strategies and tactics of energy management are optimized through use of a computer code which simulates the vehicle under race conditions. Much of the technology employed in the vehicle may one day become an ordinary part of future transportation systems which seek greater energy efficiency and less damage to the environment.