World_Solar_Challenge_logoThe World Solar Challenge (WSC) is the ultimate challenge in sustainable energy. The challenge is to design and build a car capable of crossing the Australian Outback using only sunlight as fuel at the highest average speed. The event occurs every two years and attracts corporations, research, and educational institutions from all around the world. Teams start in Darwin and race a car powered only by the sun through the Outback desert to Adelaide. The challenge crosses 3,000 km (2,000 miles), covering the entire continent of Australia.

Teams begin the challenge with a series of safety checks and qualifying events at the Hidden Valley Racetrack in Darwin. The race itself is a single stage race, so teams must be entirely self-sufficient during the entire race. The race is paused every night from 5pm to 8am to allow teams to rest and to prevent cars from driving at night, when nocturnal kangaroos begin to bound across the outback.

Teams stop wherever they are on the side of the road and camp for the night with their cars. There are checkpoints throughout the race where teams restock their supplies and check in on the progress of their competitors. Officials also perform regulatory checks on the cars as they reach each checkpoint. In between checkpoints, teams have to deal with everything from flat tires to giant road trains (semi-trucks carrying three or more trailers). The finish of the race is at Victoria Square in Adelaide, South Australia. Teams get to celebrate with other solar car racers from around the world and congratulate each other for racing a car they built themselves across the Australian Outback.

The Stanford Solar Car Project has raced many cars in the World Solar Challenge. Explore those vehicles here.

Map Credit: Veolia World Solar Challenge 2011