Blue Sky Looking Ahead to 2009 Panasonic World Solar Challenge

Every two years a number of ‘special’ cars are shipped to Australia where they participate in a race known as the Panasonic World Solar Challenge. The race sees these cars cross the Australian continent with only one source of fuel – the sun.

Building a car that is capable of completing the 3,000 km journey from Darwin to Adelaide in dry, hot, dusty conditions powered only by solar power, can prove to be quite a challenge. Special teams need to be assembled to accomplish the task and Toronto team Blue Sky Solar Racing is constantly striving to attract world class engineers, environmentalists and scientists to help them to accomplish this goal. In the 2007 challenge, the team managed to come first amongst fellow Canadians and it was fifth overall in its class. Now Blue Sky Solar Racing is looking ahead to the 2009 race with plenty of ambition. Not only do they want to improve on their previous performance, but according to Andreas Marouchos, their singular mission is “to demonstrate the viability of alternative energy technology and the practical benefits of a multidisciplinary approach to solving problems.”

A constant supply of new blood is supplied in the form of the University of Toronto as a number of team members involved in the design of the vehicles are often first or second year engineering students. The team also uses the Dassault SystSmes Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) tools. These include the ENOVIA SmarTeam data management technology and the CATIA virtual 3D design software. In order to speed up the design for the 2009 car, the team plans to use ENOVIA SmarTeam to work on complete assemblies in context. This will save time because it means they will be able to look at the bigger picture without having to focus so intently on the individual parts. Being able to look at the bigger picture also means that ways of reducing vehicle weight and so increase speed will also be easier to spot.

The final result is a great team working on a great concept car at a fantastic pace. The students that get involved with the program will get invaluable hands-on experience in automotive design and the software used in the design process as well as the opportunity to work alongside some really experienced industry experts. All this goes a long way toward finding more efficient ways to design new car parts. Heads will definitely turn when the Blue Sky Solar Racing team takes part in the 2009 Panasonic World Solar Challenge.

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