Check out the winners of this year's 1,900-mile World Solar Challenge race

In case you missed it, the World Solar Challenge — a solar-powered car race that pits cozens of teams against each other in a 1,900 mile race across the Australian outback– happened this past week week. Ever since 1987, the WSC has sent teams from Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory across the Outback into Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. The teams that placed in the 2015 challenge come from all over the world, but each team’s eight-day trek from Darwin to Adelaide was completed in a whole new class of renewable energy vehicle.

The difficulties of any long-distance race are clear from an engineering standpoint, but completing the course in solar-powered cars presents international teams with a unique set of challenges. The World Solar Challenge rules and regulations were inspired by the original idea that a 1000 Watt car could complete the journey from Darwin to Adelaide in 50 hours. Ten percent of that energy projection is allotted to solar cars in the challenge: 5 kilowatt hours of stored energy per charge. After that, the Challenge hopes to encourage the development of the world’s most efficient electric vehicles technologies, pushing teams to maximize the power in every charge, source energy from the sun, and recover kinetic energy from the vehicle itself.

The race is split into three separate groups that compete simultaneously: the Challenger Class, Cruiser Class, and Adventure Class. Each of these classes focus on a different feat of solar power engineering, and teams that compete within them must meet a strict set of criteria. Here’s a breakdown of the 2015 race results.

Challenger Class Winner: Nuon Solar w/ Nuna 8

nuon_solar_WSC
Nuon Solar

Challenger Class competitors race in smaller cars designed to carry one driver alone, and aim to beat the best time for each day as they reach checkpoints along the single, complete stage from Darwin to Adelaide. Entrants in the Challenger Class are also required to complete the entire stage with one battery charge, relying on solar power to fuel whatever is left of the journey after that charge expires.

This year, the Dutch dominated at the top of the podium, with Nuon Solar winning first place for the second consecutive time. Nuon Solar already has the first-place 2013 Challenger Class title to its name, and this year’s Nuna 8 is an improvement on the previous Nuna 7 model. The team’s strategy over the years has relied on the lightweight, durable quality of 3D printed materials to keep weight low and efficiency high. The spoiler on the Nuna 8 was completely 3D printed, and only weighed 250 grams. In their victory celebration at the finish line, some of the team’s leadership pointed out the trouble with cloud coverage when racing a solar-powered car.

Cruiser Class Winner: Team Eindhoven w/ Stella Lux

Nederland, Eindhoven, 2 juli 2015. Stella Lux, de 2e familie zonnewagen van Solar Team Eindhoven, het studententeam van de Technische Universiteit Eindhoven. // Stella Lux, the 2nd solar family car by Solar Team Eindhoven, the studentteam of Eindhoven University of Technology. photo: TU Eindhoven / Bart van Overbeeke

Cruiser Class competitors race with one driver and one passenger in each vehicle, and their times are scored based on two halves of the journey instead of day-long destination stages. The first stage in the Cruiser Class spans from Darwin to Alice Springs, the route’s midway point between Darwin and Adelaide. The stop in Alice Springs affords Cruiser Class competitors the chance to recharge their vehicle’s batteries, but that means that for two legs of the race (between Darwin and Alice Springs and between Alice Springs and the finish line in Adelaide) vehicles have to run completely on solar power to supplement their battery charge.

Eindhoven’s team won this year’s Cruiser Class in the Stella Lux: an updated version of their 2013 Stella vehicle. Their 2015 upgrades focused on a redesigned body that features a wind tunnel aligned with the center of the car. This kind of aerodynamic design helped to reduce the energy expenditure of the car while on course, which is crucial when competing in the Cruiser Class. Overall, the Stella Lux weighs 826 pounds and is made mostly of carbon fiber. Since Cruiser Class vehicles are required to carry more weight over a greater distance with less access to grid charging, 3D printing isn’t always a viable option.

Adventure Class Winner: TAFE SA w/ Solar Spirit

tafesa

The Adventure Class allows cars built for previous editions of the event to run again, usually with new team members. This bracket is generally used as a catchment for under-funded teams that haven’t quite met all the strict race requirements of the Challenger or Cruiser classes — so it’s often filled with student teams and independent groups without a lot of sponsors. As such, this race is usually a bit less competitive

This year, no cars from the Adventure Class actually finished the entire 1,900 mile (3022 km) course. In the end, it came down to which car had traveled the furthest distance in the least amount of time, with the Australian student team TAFE SA taking the top spot in its Solar Spirit vehicle. The car managed to travel 809 miles in 47 hours before going out, at which point it had to be trailered to the finish line.

Emerging Tech

Light-swallowing room promises Call of Duty fans the blackest of ops

What's it like to be in a room fully painted with the world's darkest material, Vantablack? The makers of one of the year's top video games teamed up with Vantablack scientists to find out.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this fall with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Castle Rock'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we've put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Gaming

Annual game releases are boring. Try a quirky indie game for the PS4 instead

While big budget games rely on practical innovation, indie games dive head first into new, unexplored territories. If the quirky and unusual appeal to you, take a look at our list of the best indie games on PS4.
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Gaming

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now, from Super Mario Odyssey to Fortnite.
Wearables

Skydio’s self-flying drone now has an Apple Watch app for flight prep

Skydio's clever R1 autonomous drone now has its own Apple Watch app, making flight preparations simpler than ever. The $2,000 flying machine is now also selling at its first retail outlet — Apple Stores in North America.
Emerging Tech

Scientists created a condom that self-lubricates during sex. You’re welcome

Researchers from Boston University have invented a special coating for condoms which make them respond to bodily fluids by becoming more slippery. Here's how their new breakthrough works.
Emerging Tech

Are e-cigarettes safe? Here’s what the most recent science says

Ecigarettes are widely regarded and advertised as a healthier alternative to cigarettes for people who are trying to kick the smoking habit. How safe are these cigarette alternatives? We went deep into the recent scientific literature to…
Emerging Tech

You’re so vein: Palm-based biometric system could help confirm your identity

Move over, Face ID! The next biometric security systems could rely on analyzing the unique vein patterns in your palm print. Here are some of the ways the technology could prove useful.
Emerging Tech

For only $4,950, you can get jetpack lessons from the world’s only instructor

Have you ever dreamed of flying using a jetpack? JetPack Aviation founder -- and the world's only qualified jetpack teacher -- David Mayman is now offering a day of flight instruction.
Emerging Tech

Biologists have found a hormone that could make space farming possible

Researchers have shown how space farming may be possible. By encouraging plants to excrete a certain hormone, they’ve demonstrated that crops can thrive despite challenging conditions, such as low-nutrient soil and microgravity.
Emerging Tech

Keep your holiday gift list high tech and under budget with these gadgets

Modern technology doesn't always come cheap, but there plenty of premium devices that don't carry a premium price. Whether you're looking for a streaming device or a means of capturing photos from above, our list of the best tech under $50…
Emerging Tech

When tech goes wrong: Banksy’s shredder was meant to totally destroy his artwork

Banksy's recent auction stunt was meant to totally destroy one of his most famous pieces of work, but a fault with the shredder has left the buyer with something almost certainly worth far more than the $1 million she bid for it.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.