The hybrid vehicle created by the School of Design from the Creative Campus and the Sustainability Center at Universidad Andres Bello, won second place in its category during the 2012 Atacama Solar Race, after traveling 1,300 kilometers through the driest desert in the world. For three days the Velo vehicle tested the technology and the skill of its pilots.
The tricycle was piloted by two students from the design program at Universidad Andrés Bello, who maintained an excellent rhythm throughout the rugged path. The first day, the vehicles participating in the competition had to travel from Salitrera Humberstone to Calama, 336 kilometers in total. Velo managed finish the day in first place in its category.
After finishing the first day, the team's vice-captain, Sebastián Tolvett was very happy to have met the goal: "We wanted to reach the goal and maintain an average speed of 40 kilometers per hour, and we did". Héctor Novoa, Director of Project Veló, said, that "the pilot, Rodrigo Salazar, a fourth-year student from the Graphic Design program and a distinguished professional cyclist, did well and kept a pace and average speed according to plan."
At the half point of the race, Veló passed in front of Eolian, the solar car from Universidad de Chile. "The team finished the first day with an excellent time, we left and arrived first. We are very well positioned to continue with the three days of competition left, "said Novoa.
Days of competition
A hard day laid ahead for the participants in the second day of competition. The journey started at Calama and continued to San Pedro de Atacama, traveling over 170 kilometers of road. The Rockwood Lithium stretch gave a strong preference to solar vehicles that could endure travel at three thousand meters above sea level in one of the most difficult stages of the competition.
Despite the conditions of the section, most of the teams turned in an excellent performance throughout the route. The team managed to keep Veló in very good position, coming in second behind the goal after Acapomil.
During the third and final day of the race, Veló travelled 357 kilometers and unlike previous days, tricycles and hybrid solar car participated in different routes. Participants in the Atacama Solar Challenge category went from Chacabuco, while those in the Solar Road (Veló’s Category) went from Quillahua (boundary between the regions of Tarapaca and Antofagasta)
Veló is a hybrid city car, which runs on solar and human power. It has an electric motor that draws power from batteries charged by solar panels and complemented by pedaling. This distinction serves to generate traction in the vehicle and allows it to recharge its batteries.
The design process was strongly influenced by the interaction between various disciplines, which is manifested in an integrated design and high degree of specificity of each component used in its construction, in order to optimize its performance.
It is 1.3 meters high and wide and 3 meters long. It weighs 100 kilos and is constructed of aircraft grade aluminum. It has an engine power of 100 W and uses lithium batteries. It has a flexible photovoltaic panel 300 w 2.2 meters square. This is adapted to the geometry of the vehicle. It reaches a top speed of 55 kilometers per hour.
This article was originally written in Spanish and has been translated into English to be shared on the Laureate International Universities website.