At speeds that would be thought of as nearly standing still at Speed Week, a solar-powered vehicle set a new land speed record by hitting a top speed of about 55 mph--on just the power of the sun.
The Sunswift IVy looks more like a space ship than a car with three wheels, a carbon fiber body, 400 silicon cells and a small cockpit for a driver. It was designed and built by engineering students at University of New South Wales.
The IVy produces about 1,200 watts--the same power it takes to run a toaster. It normally uses its solar cells to charge a 25kg battery, but the battery was removed for the record attempt.
The record breaking run took place at about 10:30 a.m. local time, January 7, 2011, at HMAS Albatross Navy Base airstrip in Nowra, Australia. The IVy was piloted by professional driver Barton Mawer.
"I've been lucky enough to drive racing cars all around the world, but this was right up there as a buzz," Mawer said in a statement. "To grab the world record is just great for the whole team, and the University of New South Wales put in a big effort to get this done and hopefully we can keep chipping away at it to raise the bar."