A group of 22 students from Eindhoven University of Technology, known as Solar Team Eindhoven, has achieved a significant milestone by successfully driving the world’s first off-road solar car, Stella Terra, on a challenging 1,000-kilometer journey from Northern Morocco to the Sahara.
This solar-powered vehicle, characterized by its green exterior inspired by nature, demonstrated its capabilities in navigating rugged terrains, including dry riverbeds, forested areas, steep mountain trails, and loose desert sand.
Stella Terra’s power source is a network of photovoltaic panels covering nearly the entire upper surface of the car, which includes the roof and hood. The car is designed to be road-legal, boasts a top speed of 145 kilometers per hour, a weight of 1,200 kilograms, and a range of 710 kilometers on sunny days. In off-road conditions, the range typically averages around 550 kilometers, depending on the surface.
The development of Stella Terra began with its introduction as a concept vehicle in March 2023, followed by the presentation of a real-life model in September 2023. The challenge was to create a self-sustaining off-road vehicle that could operate solely on solar power.
This required designing many components, from the suspension to the inverters for the solar panels. Solar Team Eindhoven’s team manager, Wisse Bos, emphasized the importance of ensuring that Stella Terra could withstand the harsh conditions of off-roading while remaining efficient and lightweight enough to rely on solar power.
Before embarking on the 1,000-kilometer journey through various landscapes, Stella Terra underwent extensive testing in the Netherlands. To their delight, the solar car proved to be even more efficient than anticipated, using 30% less energy than expected. This efficiency allowed them to complete the entire trip relying solely on solar energy without the need for charging stations.
The successful expedition not only demonstrates the potential of sustainable off-road travel but also showcases the innovation and dedication of Solar Team Eindhoven in advancing solar-powered transportation. Hopefully, this technology will start to be more explored and vehicles with solar panels start to be mass-produced in the near future.