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Solar Cars Take to Austin’s Circuit of the Americas Racetrack

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Every year, the Formula Sun Grand Prix takes place on a racetrack where normally gasoline-fueled cars speed around the roadway. The FSGP tests out solar-powered vehicles made by teams of university students. According to the American Solar Challenge website, “The winner of FSGP is determined by the total number of laps completed over the three days of racing. The team that completes the fastest single lap around the track is also recognized in the awards ceremony.”

The Circuit of the Americas has held the event four times, including last weekend’s race. KUT reports that 18 teams competed, including the University of Texas Cockrell School of Engineering, and they say it’s really not all about placing first. “It’s a competitive event and everybody wants to do well, but it’s really about the learning,” UT advisor Gary Hallock said. “And there’s a huge amount of learning around here, sort of real world engineering, of having things break and having to fix them quickly.”

Photos from the event available on Flickr show how unique the cars look. By seeing the cars covered in solar panels with an open orb in the middle fit for a driver, you might get a sense that you’re looking at the future of automobiles.