How a team of Engineering students are building a solar powered car? Right here in Namma Bengaluru!  

Team Indiansme caught up with Vikram Nath, one of the founding team members of Soleblaze which has received accolades world over.

How did you start as your new venture?

Experiential Learning as part of our curriculum at RV College of Engineering, Bengaluru played the most crucial part of providing a unique opportunity to start the RVCE Solar Car Team, a student run organization that builds and develops solar powered electric vehicles. I was able to bring along likeminded people within the institution from different branches of engineering discipline to form what is today one of the most prestigious student club to get into at RVCE. Along with the immense guidance and support from the college administration and management the student team of 20 members set out to define the vision of our project and its scope, project plan, determined roles and responsibilities, budgets etc. With this we looked for potential partners and sponsors from the industry to help us in our endeavour which defined the true capabilities of the project and its outcomes.

What is the biggest challenge you faced so far?

The biggest challenge was with the incorporation and being accepted as a new club within RVCE with its multitude projects in various sectors. We were rookies who literally did not know anything about how a solar powered functioned with the intricacies of the numerous electrical and electronics components, control and telemetry system, power point trackers along with the basic steering and suspension systems that were crucial for us in building the car. We had to do a lot of study ourselves and be able to convince ourselves it was possible within the 2-year timeline, managing between our regular college course work and the project. There was always something we learnt every day!

What is your Success Mantra?

We believed that to start something in life you don’t need to be born with certain gifts, however the only way you will create a mark for yourself,is if you are willing to take that giant leap forward to get what you want. Magically things will fall your way. You just need to have the courage, the right attitude and not be disheartened with the difficulties that come your way (which may be plenty) by the time you reach your goal.

What is Unique to your company/products?

The RVCE Solar Car Team is one of India’s most sophisticated solar powered car developed by students. It is a robust vehicle with technological capabilities of prognostic health monitoring system, with the multitude of powerful sensors, a highly efficient solar array from SunPower, a full carbon fiber body along with an aluminium T6063 Space Frame Chassis. The cost of manufacturing the prototype is nearly 1/10 the cost of other solar powered cars developed by teams from other parts of the world with the overall value of the project at INR 1.25 Crores.
Please mention about your achievements/awards so far.

  • The team was invited for Wipro’s flagship event as part of the Young Achiever’s- the Wipro Earthian 2015 and 2016. We were part of the panel discussion, motivating young minds to take up projects such as these.
  • The team formed a number of industrial collaborations in the first project cycle. The list of sponsors includes- Infosys, TCS, SunEdison. Wipro, and SunPower , HHV Solar, National instruments, IFM, Mahindra Reva, Altair, Molex, Schneider Electric, and many more.
  • Formation of the ‘Advisory Board’ consisting of top level experts – CEOs, MDs, VPs and technical experts from our sponsoring companies, and experts from within the college to establish a strong industry-academia support to facilitate the manufacturing and marketing of the car and the project. We also received personal guidance from Chetan Maini, Co- founder of Mahindra Reva.
  • We participated in the “Tech Santhe”, part of Zinnov’s Confluence 2015, which is one of the largest congregations of technology ecosystem.
  • Received personal guidance and funding from Mr. Narayan Murthy for displaying extraordinary efforts in making one of India’s most technologically advanced solar cars to date.
  • Became the second team from India to participate in the most prestigious event of the solar racing fraternity, The World Solar Challenge.
    We secured first place in various national level competitions- including Dr. AIT’s National level technical exhibition held on the 125th anniversary of Dr. B R Ambedkar, first place at Alpha college of engineering technical exhibition.

What are your expectations from the Industry?

We would really appreciate if the industry and academia can strengthen their relations further which will in turn help innovative projects such as our to be able to make breakthroughs that would help the society as a whole. It would be nice if the industries and Government bodies can fully recognize the potential of such innovative projects and come together to help students working on similar projects across the country to realize their dreams and perhaps contribute to their country in better ways with their radical thinking, new products and ideas and encourage entrepreneurial talents in them.

What kind of technology you have implemented/Plan to implement?
The general specifications of the solar powered vehicle are as follows:

Length  4485mm
Breadth 1790mm
Height 1235mm
Weight 277 kg
Suspensions Double wishbone suspension (Aluminium 6060 T6)
Steering Rack and pinion steering system
Brakes Dual circuit hydraulic brake system, Regenerative braking
Chassis Spaceframe Aluminium 6063 T6
Body Carbon fibre 1.5mm shell
Solar array 6m2, Monocrystalline Silicon Cells SunPower C60 Cells wired in 3 parallel strings boosted by an MPPT
Drivetrain Mitsuba 2 kW, Direct Drive in wheel motor.
Batteries 20 kg Lithium Ion Batteries Energy Capacity Estimate-5kWh
BMS Tritium battery management system
Telemetry National instruments- Compact RIO

The scope for this particular project is limitless, in terms of the direct application in multiple sectors such as clean energy, smart grids, smart cities, prognostic health monitoring systems, starting from the smallest sensors to the highly advanced vehicle to vehicle communication systems. The knowledge gained from this project can help us promote R&D activities in numerous sectors!

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