For the past 28 years, a team of student designers have been working to create a more sustainable means of transportation. The House of the Midnight Sun’s current focus is to harness solar energy to power recreational vehicles, and to someday create a cleaner commute. The team of almost all UWaterloo undergraduate students have designed and built eleven solar race vehicles to date.
The Midnight Sun team began with the concept of a solar powered bicycle, and has since expanded their vision to creating solar powered vehicles capable of achieving highway speeds. The most recent addition to the team's collection is the Midnight Sun XI, which moves away from the “adventure class” to “cruiser class.”
Midnight Sun XI’s new design features four wheels, carbon fiber structural body, and driver/passenger capabilities, compared to the previous ten Midnight Suns which had properties such as three wheels, single driver, and an aluminum frame. According to Aaron Lam, a second-year computer engineering student and co-project manager of Midnight Sun, this new territory marks a new chapter in the evolution of solar cars and a pivotal change to the team:
Sustainable energy has been a topic of discussion for many years, and alternatives to non-reusable resources are in high demand. One of the largest contributors to pollution comes from the vehicles we drive every day. Midnight Sun is a challenge for a sustainable alternative for transportation.
The team plans to design their newest car, the Midnight Sun XII in the footsteps of Midnight Sun XI, with a focus on creating a more consumer friendly product.
Every year, solar technology grows, and the efficiency of solar cells become stronger. Switching to a cruiser class opens up an opportunity to look into a vehicle that may be a feasible alternative to your family vehicles. In the near future, we look optimistically to the sun for alternative energy!
The team showed off their car at the American Solar Challenge 2016, and will take what they learned and put it into the next car, the Midnight Sun XII, which they hope to use in their next competitions: the American Solar Challenge 2018 and World Solar Challenge 2019.