Although you aren't likely to see them rolling around your neighborhood, solar cars are nothing new. The first version was invented by William Cobb in 1955 and there have been solar car races since the 1980s. There's even a family car called Stella that can go 500 miles on a single charge.
Recently, the Stanford Solar Car Project (SSCP), America’s top solar car team, unveiled their latest creation, the Arctan. An upgrade from their previous design, the Luminos, the new car is 50 percent lighter and will make the journey from Darwin, Australia to Adelaide as part of the 2015 World Solar Challenge in October.
The hood of this vehicle is covered in SunPower Maxeon cells, some of the most advanced solar panels on the market. The car is fairly flat in order to maximize surface area, with the (hopefully non-claustrophobic) driver squeezed into a small compartment bubble. It may look silly, but the unusual design helps the car generate the power it needs to hit high speeds. As an added bonus, Stanford says the black exterior is easy to clean and fingerprint-resistant.
Arctan gets its moniker from the late Bryant Tan, who was a friend of the Stanford Solar Car Project. "We believe that Arctan is a fitting expression of gratitude to a man as mathematical as Bryant," the team explained in a blog post.