Sunday, February 22, 2009

Driving a Solar Car to the Arctic Circle - Xof1 visits the Google Campus

I've once before posted about a car that impressed me, the Terrafugia Transition. It happened again: Last Friday as we were making our way to the cafe, a solar panel whizzed by us. If I hadn't seen this apparatus at the Google campus, I might have thought that the alien invasion was upon us - the car has a very low center of gravity and other than the solar panel there's really nothing you can see when it's rolling.

After lunch I got a few cellphone shots of the device. The driver (guy in the center of the first photo) explained some of the stats and the circumstances in which he has driven this car. The most impressive trip led him to the arctic circle. The car has Li-Ion batteries which deliver about 900 Watts. It can travel at freeway speeds (~60/70 miles per hour), but the driver likes to avoid the freeway because other drivers get a bit excited about this vehicle and it's more efficient and pleasant to drive at ~40/50 miles per hour. He never plugs it in - so Google was his gas-station, pretty much; good for him that we've got such a sunny campus. More technical details are available at their website.

While it's a great accomplishment and an awesomely cool looking car, I should also mention the obvious downsides: Where's the cargo space? For a large share of my car travel I'm moving my snowboard, boots, and clothing to and from the mountains. Also, in winter driving situations, having traction on a single very thin tire at 90 psi seems a bit problematic, to put it mildly. Oh wait - amazingly enough - they drove it in the snow. Besides, this car only weighs 300 kg with driver so when it slides off the road I imagine you can just kick it back yourself, no assistance needed...

No comments:

Post a Comment