The UK-based solar racing team, Solar Team Great Britain, has signed up with the Centre for Modelling & Simulation (CFMS) in Bristol to use its Cray supercomputer to design and model a prize-winning solar car for a competition in Australia next year.

“We’re seeking to be one of the most advanced teams racing in this category and the backing of CFMS plays a key role in this”


The Bridgestone World Solar Challenge begins in October 2017 and sees cars race 3,022 km across the Australian desert, from Darwin to Adelaide. The team will be competing in the Cruiser Class category for multi-seat vehicles.

“We’re seeking to be one of the most advanced teams racing in this category and the backing of CFMS plays a key role in this,” said team leader Steven Heape. “The team was in Australia last week collecting tens of thousands of data points about the conditions the team will face in a year’s time, and this will also be used in modelling the car to create the perfect design to cope with these.”

Solar Team Great Britain (pictured above) brings together design and engineering experts from the University of Bristol, the University of Bath, Airbus, Higher Education Funding Council for England, Institution of Mechanical Engineers and QinetiQ.

80,000 processing cores

“We are delighted to support Solar Team Great Britain in its quest to compete in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, working with them to develop and accelerate new technology such as solar energy through the use of advanced modelling and simulation and high-performance computing,” said Sam Paice, Chief Operating Officer, CFMS. The CS400 super computer has over 80,000 processing cores for high-performance modelling of systems.

The previous Solar Challenge in 2013 saw a four-seater family car travel the route with an external energy consumption of only 64 kWh. In comparison, a modern family car consumes around 56mpg and will have an energy consumption of approximately 5,000 kWh.

You can see more about the event at the Solar Team Great Britain website, including the challenge and map of the journey. You can also keep up to date with the latest from the CFMS by following them on Twitter here: @CFMSuk

Nick Flaherty