Solar team puts you in the driver's seat

UNSW's Sunswift solar racing team lets race fans get up close and personal in gruelling 3000km global solar challenge across Australia

Ever wanted to virtually sit in the cockpit of a world-record breaking solar car, as it races across Australia against some of the best eco-friendly cars in the world?

For the first time, the UNSW solar racing team, Sunswift, will give people just that chance during this year's World Solar Challenge. Cutting-edge satellite technology will provide online, real-time updates on the team's progress, including photos, tweets and detailed technical information, as the car speeds from Darwin to Adelaide.

Sunswift IV, known to the team as the IVy, is a three-wheeled carbon fibre machine that can reach speeds over 100 km/h using just 1,300 watts - the same amount of power it takes to toast two slices of bread.

In January this year, the IVy smashed the Guinness World Record to become the
world's fastest solar vehicle, a huge feat for a car designed and built by UNSW
engineering students.

The Sunswift team has had little time to rest on their laurels, as they've been busy preparing for the gruelling World Solar Challenge, a contest between solar and eco-friendly vehicles. The IVy will be one of 42 solar race teams from 21 countries making the 3000km trek.

The race begins in Darwin on Sunday October 16, with Sunswift expected to reach Adelaide within five days.

Sunswift project manager Daniel Friedman says race fans have been crying out for more information on how the IVy progresses during the Challenge. So the team set out to devise a way to place fans 'virtually' in the cockpit.

"In the outback, 3G and WiFi are almost non-existent, as you can imagine, so it was quite a technical challenge to design a system that could allow our fans to feel like they were part of the race," Friedman says. "Thus, Sunswift Live was born. Since February this year the team's been working on the infrastructure to provide real time data right into the web browsers of anyone interested in the race."

The team will send real-time data back to Sydney via a server hosted by OrionVM, who are providing the bandwidth for the Sunswift Live service. The data will be transmitted by a satellite link provided by Addcom Contact Solutions, which can still transfer information even if the car hits 100km/h! Race-watchers will then see all the data through a user interface designed by Lavender, a Sydney-based ad agency.

Friedman says the team's fired up and excited about its chances in the Global Solar Challenge.

"We've been working really hard and I think it's starting to show. We can't wait to get to the start line as one of the teams representing Australia. The team has a long journey ahead, and we can't wait to share it with everybody."

Click here to see the view from the cockpit and track the Sunswift IVy's progress.

Follow the team on Twitter @sunswift

Media contact: Alexander Symonds | 02 9385 1933 | 0431 947 956