Solar-Powered Cars to Compete in Harrowing Race Across the Australian Outback

A four-passenger, solar-powered car named "Violet" is driving thousands of miles across Australia. But that trip is just the precursor to a harrowing race that spans the punishing landscape of the country's outback and is open only to vehicles powered by the sun.

Engineering students from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have designed and built this magnificent car. It will travel about 2,700 miles (4,300 kilometers) to Darwin on the continent’s northern coast. This scenic route helps the team to test the car and serves as a regional outreach tour.

Violet is the sixth iteration of a solar-powered race car produced by UNSW's Sunswift team, which formed in 1995 to compete in the World Solar Challenge. UNSW representatives described it as "a four-seater sedan" and larger than previous generations of Sunswift's solar race cars. On the group’s website, Sunswift representatives explicated that Violet was deliberately crafted to match commercially produced vehicles and it aimed to show the use of solar technology as a potential energy source for practical, daily use in transportation.

On Oct. 8, Violet will take part in the 30th Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, competing against 47 teams representing 21 nations.