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Illinois ECE students help build street-legal solar car

4/3/2020

Joseph Park, Illinois ECE

The Illini Solar Car Team testing out Argo (credit to Fox Illinois)
The Illini Solar Car Team testing out Argo (credit to Fox Illinois)

In 2014, Illinois ECE students developed a solar car with a license plate, accelerator, brake pedal, headlights, taillights, and even a horn. Named Argo, this street-legal car ran  only on solar energy and went to 70 miles per hour. 

"Argo was our first car and pretty experimental," said Illinois ECE junior and Illini Solar Car Team President John Han in a story with Fox Illinois

"It ended up being a pretty good car but it was mostly built to be a functional car more than the perfect, most efficient car as possible," said Han. "But in solar racing, efficiency is very important to success."

Now, over 100 Illinois students worked together to develop a new and improved street-legal car named Brizo.

"The next car has been designed very carefully over many years to be as efficient as possible," Han said to Fox Illinois. "That means it has extreme aerodynamics, a lot more efficient solar ray and overall a lot more reliability across the board. 

Illinois students working on Brizo (credit to Fox Illinois)
Illinois students working on Brizo (credit to Fox Illinois)

"The major difference is in the shape. This one [Brizo] doesn't have any fairings, it looks like a bullet," said Illinois ECE junior and Illini Solar Car Team Director of Operations Priyal Gosar. "It's also much longer and narrower so probably driving it would be a little different too."

Although the team was unable to unveil the car due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they hope to race the car against 30 competitors in July from Independence, MO to Boise, ID. Then they hope to compete next year in Australia for the biggest solar car race. 

"I think everyone will be really shocked to see the design," said Han. "It's a lot different from the old car.  I think it's a big step forward for our team."

The COVID-19 pandemic has indefinitely suspended current operations on the solar car. The team is unsure when they will be able to unveil Brizo.

All filming of this story took place prior to COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders.

Read more from Fox Illinois here.