As fall weather descends on the northern hemisphere, over 40 solar-powered vehicles have just kicked off a 2-week race through South Africa.
The contest, called the South African Solar Challenge, tests the engineering, creativity, and endurance of sun ray-cers over demanding terrain. The main promoter of the race is the Advanced Energy Foundation, whose mission is to promote innovation in transportation and energy management technologies.
Over the full course, contestants will complete a 4,175 km loop from Johannesburg to Cape Town, then back along the southern coast, all the while grappling with hills, wind, and navigation.
2008 is a the first year of the challenge, which is planned to be run every two years. About 20 teams in the race are local with a roughly equal number being international teams. Beyond pure solar cars, other vehicle categories cover electrics, hybrids, and biofuel cars.