It’s not every day that you get to visit a world class solar car team in Australia. The Melbourne team Aurora invited CalSol to their facilities on Thursday to explore the workshop and get a close look at several generations of solar vehicles. Martin Brook, the Educational Outreach Leader, kindly spent the afternoon with eleven of our members, showing us the inside and out of three of their vehicles.
We were immediately struck by the size of their building. We think we could fit both of our buildings at the Richmond Field Station into the main workspace of their CSIRO facilities and still have room to park our solar cars. Aurora uses this space to house many pieces of history that the team has created and acquired over many years. The walls are covered with awards and recognition for their accomplishments in the World Solar Challenge, Suzuka Dream Cup, and other respected events.
Our drivers got the opportunity to sit inside of Aurora Evolution and Martin was gracious enough to let us take lots of pictures. We joked that this is okay because “it’s espionage, not sabotage.” Clearly they have great solar cars with a lot of innovation, but the main thing I would like to steal from Aurora is their ability to simultaneously run multiple campaigns with different vehicles. The Aurora race team just finished the 2011 Veolia World Solar Challenge in 7th place by driving Aurora Evolution the entire route on solar power. On top of that, Martin just finished leading an educational outreach program with Southern Aurora by touring the route before the competition. I think it is fantastic that they have the ability to run two coures, one slow enough to teach the public about solar energy, and one fast enough to be ranked among the best solar car teams in the world. Thanks Martin and the rest of Aurora for letting us visit!