The project in a nutshell
This project is based on the design and prototyping of a shrouded tricycle. This kind of light vehicle using human propulsion, rounded out by an electric engine powered by solar panels, is part of the research on mobility with higher performances for greenhouse gas emissions.
Its speed, autonomy, light weight and small size should enable it to reach the target of setting a record and perhaps later it will be more widely distributed among the general public to contribute to solving the problems of urban transportation.
Origins of the project
The Solar Boost project was originally put forward by Vincent Chapin, professor of aerodynamics at ISAE-SUPAERO. The specifications called for: “thinking about innovative solutions for intermediate individual transport between the automobile, highly polluting and bulky, and the bicycle, not very practical in certain situations (grocery shopping, for example), not fast enough and quite dangerous for the cyclist.”
At the start, 2 students took part in the project outside their classes. They essentially worked on the aerodynamics of the velomobile, as well as on electronics, and joined into a partnership with Solarcloth for the provision of solar panels. During the 2019-2020 school year, the project was proposed as a PIC (Project for Innovation and Creativity) to a group of 4 students in their first year of engineering studies, who then carried out a first market study. In September 2020, Agustina Gascue, a former member of the group, created the Solar Boost technical club to delve deeper into the project and to get more people involved.
The Solar Boost technical club
The club comprises three technical hubs: the electronics hub, the structure hub and the aerodynamics hub. The club also has a management hub and a hub specialized in market studies, assisted by some students from the Toulouse Business School.
In order to improve efficiency, the students involved in the club first decided to focus on integrating the engine and solar panel onto the chassis. This quickly gave them a rolling structure. At the same time, the aerodynamics team continued with optimization of the housing, which will be installed later.
The team hopes to have a functional prototype in 2022, with which they will attempt to go all the way to Italy! In the longer term, the students would like to create a university competition similar to the Shell Eco-marathon. The idea is to put into competition a number of student green vehicle prototypes meeting the specifications.
The students are currently pursuing their search for financing and partnerships.