Local students shine in Chile’s first ever solar race

Chilean teams completed the best times in both categories of the Atacama Solar Challenge, which was contested by teams from across the region.

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A home team completed Chile’s inaugural Atacama Solar Challenge with the fastest time, at an average speed of 47 mph (75km/h) over the gruelling 660 mile (1,060km), three-day race through the world’s driest desert.

The successful Grupo Antakari team brought together students from the Universidad de La Serena and the Politécnico de Illapel along with representatives from local mining company, Minera Los Pelambres.

Their vehicle, Intikalpa, managed to edge out Eolian 2 from the Universidad de Chile to claim the US$28,700 (CLP 15,000,000) prize in the “Desafío Solar Atacama” category for cars relying solely on solar power.

Antakari captain Jaime Muñoz told local press the result reflected the hard work of the Intikalpa team.

“It was worth the effort,” he said. “We were the most effective team when it came to developing the car and that allowed us to stand out from our competitors.”

The “La Ruta Solar” category, for vehicles combining solar power with pedal power, was won by Chile’s Los Andes Solar Team, which received a US$7,600 (CLP4,000,000) cash prize.

The team’s high-tech tricycle, Cóndor 1, exceeded expectations, reaching speeds of up to 37mph (60km/h) over the course of the race.

Other groups that performed well were the Pampa Solar team from Argentina, which battled it out with Los Andes Solar Team for the fastest time in the “La Ruta Solar” category, the PUPR team from Puerto Rico and the Chilean Army’s team, with its car called Atenea.

The race’s general coordinator, Leandro Valencia, told local press that the race was a major achievement for Chile and Latin America.

“We have demonstrated that the young people of the region are highly capable and that renewable energy forms, such as solar power, are a viable alternative in this continent.”