You're driving along the highway in your gas guzzler when you hear a siren
and pull over. You think it might be an accident, but instead it's the
Sleek, shiny, surreal vehicles speed past your sidelined car. They look like teardrops or beetles, shapes that are aerodynamically sexy and effective.
It's a solar race. Research teams assemble solar powered cars and then road test them in competitions in the States, Europe and Australia. It's a test of both engineering know-how and common sense. And it's the sport of the future, if it can be marketed appropriately.
Solar Cars are Viridian
Solar cars are undeniably attractive. They look as futuristic as fighter planes, and are damn sight more useful and accessible too. You'll never get a chance to fly a military jet. But solar racing is within the reach of us all.
Solar vehicle development veers close to the new-model 'distributed' approach to science research. It's not massively funded by governmental anxieties over 'national security', itís grassroots competitive experimentalism that evokes both science fairs and poetry slams. We've got university teams and high school students competing with (and sometimes beating) multinationals.
Considering that the auto transformed the organization and attitudes of Western (heck, global) society, it's only appropriate that we then transform the car as one of our starting points.
Solar Cars are not Viridian
They are all one/two passenger vehicles, buying into individual car culture. A properly Viridian competition would involve solar buses full of competing teams of seniors.
Secondly, the bias should be towards mass-produced vehicles.
Third, in keeping with our 'open source' approach, full schematics of these things should be available over the web. Who knows what some young gearhead punk could come up with in his garage?
What we want:
Solar racing to overtake NASCAR as populist sporting fun. To hear the wind
blow at the Indy 500.
Race/roadtrip genre movies featuring retired military pilots lending their grit and know-how to solar competitions. They should be savvy, technoliterate, green, graying characters who are a cross between 'McGuyver' and 'Matlock'. TV promo voiceover: "Do old soldiers fade away? Not in the bright light of the Australian Outback : their finest hour."
We need an exhibition of the cars. While there's a science aspect to this, and a competition aspect to this, there is currently no *art * component to this. The next World Solar Competition will conclude in Adelaide. Could be as simple as getting a showroom.
* * *
To walk my talk, I am willing to gamble one of my *extremely* valuable Viridian 'reputation capital' chevrons for Sunrace or the World Solar Challenge.
World Solar Challenge Family of Events: http://www.wsc.org.au/
List Archive: http://www.viridiandesign.org
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