Running on (almost) empty
The 2018 Shell Eco-Marathon challenges student teams from around the world to design, build and drive the most energy-efficient vehicles they can develop. The South African chapter of the event will be hosted by the University of Johannesburg (UJ) School of Electrical Engineering at Zwartkops Raceway on October 27 and 28.
The marathon creates the opportunity for participants to gain exposure and recognition on an international platform. It also gives the university the opportunity to welcome international students and showcase the academic programmes it has to offer. Importantly, the initiative seeks to inspire young people around the world to develop new approaches and energy-efficient solutions to the future of mobility.
Prof Johan Meyer, head of the UJ School of Electrical Engineering, says: “The Shell Eco-Marathon not only provides a platform for our young engineering minds to pit their skills against one another, it also offers exposure to real-world engineering problems and the challenge of teamwork.
“Very few things can provide the same thrill as when the knowledge of science meets reality and produces something extraordinary. The satisfaction on the faces of these learners, when their cars drive for the first time, is indescribable.”
This year, 20 teams will take their designs to the track in the Mileage Challenge; to see which vehicle will go the farthest on the least amount of energy. Twelve of the teams are from South Africa and eight are from other African countries.
The Drivers’ World Championship sees winners from the Mileage Challenge matching the efficiency of their vehicles with the skills of their drivers to find the most energy-efficient driver.
There are two classes in the Shell Eco-Marathon. First, there is the Prototype class where participants employ a streamlining approach to the engineering of their vehicle, defying the usual aesthetics and designs of vehicles in order to ensure that the vehicle achieves maximum performance.
The second class is that of the UrbanConcept vehicles that resemble every-day, roadworthy and production-type vehicles.
The Shell Eco-Marathon is flanked by the Make the Future Festival, an interactive, entertaining event that encourages young people to think about the energy challenge.