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Zurich students race in Australia in self-built solar car

solar plane
The Swiss team, called alpha-Centauri, consists of 40 students from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zurich. ETH Zurich /acentauri

Zurich students set off on the World Solar Challenge in Darwin, northern Australia, on Sunday. Driving a solar car they built themselves, they are taking part in a 3,000-kilometer race across the Australian outback.

“It’s a huge distance and you have to cover it in extreme conditions,” team member Suno Diekmann told Keystone-ATS news agency ahead of the race. It’s extremely hot, with temperatures reaching 50 degrees in the driver’s seat. The roads are very rough and the strong crosswinds can be dangerous, adds the student.

+ Swiss students break electric car record

The Swiss team, called alpha-Centauri, consists of 40 students from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zurich, most of them aged between 21 and 23. A total of 25 of them are in Australia to take part in the race.

The Zurich students plan to complete the race, from Darwin to Adelaide, in five days. To withstand the extreme conditions, they change drivers every three hours during the race.

Safety tests

The students began developing their electric car, christened “Aletsch”, about a year ago. The result: a 188-kilogram vehicle, powered entirely by solar energy, which reaches top speeds of 120 km/h.

To ensure the safety of the participants, the vehicles had to pass several safety tests before the race. “You have to pass every test as a team, otherwise you’re not admitted to the race,” explained

“Technically, we could be on the podium,” the Zurich student said with conviction, “but it would be more realistic to aim for the top 10”. After all, this is the first time the Zurich students have taken part in the Challenge, while other teams have been taking part for years. And winning the race isn’t the only objective: “It’s also about inspiration”.

This news story has been written and carefully fact-checked by an external editorial team. At SWI swissinfo.ch we select the most relevant news for an international audience and use automatic translation tools such as DeepL to translate it into English. Providing you with automatically translated news gives us the time to write more in-depth articles. You can find them here

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