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Encyclopedia > Sunswift

Sunswift is a full-scale, multi-disciplinary, student-led engineering project. Students from a range of faculties from engineering to business form the UNSW Solar Racing Team (SRT). They volunteer their time and skills to fund, design, build, equip and drive a state-of-the-art solar-powered car. With guidance from the University of New South Wales and with the support of the project's technical partners and sponsors the project provides an unprecedented theoretical-learning and hands-on experience for university students. Solar power describes a number of methods of harnessing energy from the light of the sun. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...


UNSW Sunswift III

UNSW Sunswift III
UNSW Sunswift III

The team's current vehicle, UNSW Sunswift III, is a leader on the international stage, boasting advanced aerodynamic design and high-efficiency electrical systems. It seats two people, with an array consisting of about eleven square metres of solar cells. It will average 100 km/h on just over 2kW of energy, which is about the same amount used to power a vacuum cleaner! Developed using high-tech computational fluid dynamics techniques, UNSW Sunswift III's sleek design ensures minimum wind resistance. Intelligent electrical design allows the vehicle to convert energy generated by the solar array into electrical driving power at an efficiency of over 95%. The car's body shell and chassis is a carbon fibre composite structure which provides high strength at a very low weight.


Sunswift was the brainchild of final-year electrical engineering student, Byron Kennedy, who in 1995 was searching for an exciting thesis project. He assembled a team of engineering students, acquired a defunct racing car from a rival solar racing team, and began the process of readying the car to race in the 1996 World Solar Challenge (WSC) race from Darwin to Adelaide. The World Solar Challenge is a solar powered car race over 3021 km through central Australia from Darwin to Adelaide. ...

Since then, Sunswift has been the flagship engineering project within the Faculty of Engineering at UNSW. Over the past 10 years, hundreds of students have poured sweat, determination, hope and trepidation into the design, construction, testing and racing of their solar vehicle. They've raced all over Australia - Darwin to Adelaide, Perth to Sydney, Sydney to Melbourne, Adelaide to Sydney - they've faced their adversaries, made new friends and learned, first-hand, about high profile engineering projects.

UNSW Sunswift II
UNSW Sunswift II

UNSW Sunswift II

Over seven years, from 1997 to 2003, the team developed, refined and raced four versions of UNSW Sunswift II. In 2000-2001 the team embarked on the TopCell project to manufacture buried contact solar cells to construct a new solar array. This makes the UNSW SRT the first and only team to have made their own solar cells. Along the way the team achieved a new world record efficiency for this type of solar cell. The remaining cells on UNSW Sunswift II are the world's highest efficiency "PERL" silicon solar cells, made at UNSW. The team also developed a revolutionary cell encapsulation technique which allowed it to mould solar panels to the curved shape of the car, another world first. To learn more about the Topcell project, check out our website in the Links section below.


The original Sunswift vehicle was purchased off the Aurora Vehicle Association in 1995, then significantly upgraded and improved by the UNSW SRT for the 1996 World Solar Challenge. A new motor and controller, roll cage, chassis and batteries were added. The car was still a competitive beast despite its age, placing 9th out of over 40 entries. The experienced gained with the Sunswift vehicle inspired the development of UNSW Sunswift II starting in 1997.


1. 1996 WSC – Sunswift finished 9th out of 46 entries. This was the University’s first entry in a solar car event amongst the prestigious and competitive entries from Honda Motors Corporation, the Swiss entry from Biel, and Mitsubishi Materials Corporation.

2. 1999 NRMA Transcontinental Record Attempt – with the car NRMA Sunswift II completed 4,012 km in ten days despite five days of bad weather. Even though the record of 8½ days was not broken, the attempt was still regarded to be a success with $2.4 million worth of publicity generated. NRMA badge from front of Rolls Royce Phantom NRMA refers to either of two historically related Australian companies: The National Roads and Motorists Association (aka NRMA Motoring & Services) is a member-owned mutual organisation offering roadside assistance, travel, vehicle inspection and other services in NSW. NRMA Insurance is a brand...

3. 1999 CitiPower SunRace – three days after completing the Perth-Sydney record attempt the team entered this event. NRMA Sunswift II obtained third place in a highly competitive field of five entries, proving the car’s reliability and the team’s dedication after five continuous weeks on the road.

4. NRMA Sunswift II participated in a trade exhibition in Taipei, on request from the Federal Government.

5. 1999 WSC – NRMA Sunswift II finished a respectable 18th out of 48 international entries.

6. 2001 WSC - UNSW Sunswift II was the 11th car to cross the line.

7. 2005 WSC - UNSW Sunswift III was the 9th car to cross the line, arriving in 5 days.

External links

  • www.sunswift.com



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