STE takes Vie and Era to European Championships for solar cars

Solar Team Eindhoven presented solar car Stella Era to the press and to its business partners today. Presentations were held in the Market Hall of MetaForum this morning and at the Automotive Campus in Helmond in the afternoon. The new team was presented, and the car’s practical uses, apart from its driving performance, were shown for the first time. Long-distance driving will be tested later this month during the European Solar Challenge.

by
photo Bart van Overbeeke

“Solar Team Eindhoven showed Stella Era’s potential in Australia, today the press and our partners will get to see the solar car’s practical uses,” says Mick van der Spoel, project manager of STE 2019. During a live demonstration, he revealed the features the team had already presented as vision in July 2019. At the time, the focus was still on the preparations for the World Solar Challenge, the technologies were further developed during the past year. Van der Spoel also introduces the new student team.

Like a true car salesman, Van der Spoel once again touts Stella Era’s qualities. “This car gives maximum freedom. Imagine a vacation in Sweden where you camp in a tent in the middle of nature. You can netflix in the evening using the car’s battery, and you can make a Senseo cup of coffee for breakfast.”

Amber

The battery powered by the sun allows you to do more, he continues: “In a country that has fewer loading stations than the Netherlands, Stella Era can help out and load an electric car.” To demonstrate this, a nearby BMW from car-sharing platform Amber is connected for a few minutes.

Autonomous driving can’t be demonstrated in the Market Hall for safety reasons, instead, STE offers a presentation on a screen. Van der Spoel: “Era can see, think, and act autonomously. She keeps an eye on all blind spots via eight radars. Because we combine the data we get from this with information about free parking places and spots in the sunlight or in the shadow, she can think and take action without a driver.”

New team

That concludes an overview of the current situation. The new Solar Team has the honor of continuing Stella’s mission. Kjell Revenberg (on the left in the photo) first became interested in the Solar Team four years ago during his Intro, in no small part because his intro dad was a member of STE at the time. Now that he is nearly finished with his Bachelor Mechanical Engineering, he has the time to be team manager. Charlot Felderhof already completed her Bachelor Industrial Design. She recently was a member of the Central Intro Committee and will now spend the next year serving as STE’s PR manager.

Felderhof expects that the 20 members of the new team, instead of the previous team’s 26, will be able to interact with one another quickly. “Less people means shorter lines of communication. We’ve found people for each of the functions, the team is complete.” The improvements the new team intends to work on are still not known: “We will be in a brainstorm phase for the first couple of months. We only started last week and we are still open to new ideas.”

European Championships

The first opportunity for the team to compete is scheduled to take place during the European Championships. In the weekend of 18 and 19 September, STE will take two cars to Zolder, Belgium. STE first took part in the European Solar Challenge, which takes place bi-yearly when the World Solar Challenge isn’t held, during the previous edition. Their last attempt was unsuccessful due to the weather.

“The weather was really bad, and because of the rain there was a chance of a short circuit in the car. We decided that it wasn’t safe enough to continue driving with Stella Vie,” says Vincent Bolta, responsible for software at Team 2019. “Stella Era, however, is waterproof,” he ensures, “I took part in the tests myself, during which water was sprayed under the hubcaps. Era’s hardware is water resistant, that’s for certain, it’s unsure though whether the wheels can race on a wet road. A safety manager will decide whether or not Era takes part in case of rain. Vie will remain in the garage when it rains in any case.” Bolta already took a look at the weather forecast. “It looks like 18 September will be a cloudy day, but that could still change. We’re hoping for sun.”

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