This week in Paris, governments are gathered at the UN Climate Change
Conference to discuss how we can reverse the devastating effects of global
warming. No doubt they will leave the conference with numerous pledges,
promises and intentions to tackle the growing emissions problems that our
planet faces. The hard part comes later when we must put in place the measures
and solutions to shrink our collective carbon footprint.
Many of the challenges created by global warming will be solved with
innovative technological solutions. One of those potential solutions is
– the solar family powered vehicle built by students of Eindhoven
University of Technology using technology from NXP.
The car is described as a “prototype” energy positive vehicle.
But don’t let the word “prototype” make you think this is
just a concept built for trade show stands. Stella Lux just won gold in the cruiser
class challenge at the World Solar Championships
in Australia, a 3000km race across the outback.
Tom Selten, team leader for Solar Team Eindhoven, showed Stella Lux at NXP
headquarters and answered questions from an enthusiastic group of NXP
engineers who made the technology that powers Stella.
Fresh from its victory in the desert, Stella Lux’s next stop was
Shanghai, China, the world’s most populated city that suffers from high
levels of pollution and congestion. It’s the perfect destination for
Stella Lux to demonstrate the future of green mobility.
The next event was at Tongji University where students demonstrated
Stella’s V2X enabled traffic light phasing and timing abilities. Using
NXP technology to connect Stella Lux to infrastructure and other cars could
lead to significant improvements to traffic flow in cities and help ensure
solar car drivers are able to optimize the life of their battery charge.
Stella is also able to give drivers real-time warnings of upcoming hazards
beyond the driver’s line of sight and over distances of more than one
mile in order to prevent accidents.
As well as the technical obstacles, one of the other major challenges to
global roll out of smart solar cars will be to overcome cultural barriers.
“One of the things we found working with students from Chinese
universities is that they always ask about our professor or mentor. We had to
explain we don’t have one. We built this car as a team of students in a
very flat team structure with no professor leading us. The Chinese have a much
more hierarchical approach to working. During this visit to Shanghai we were
able to learn more about the way they work and think about how we can better
collaborate together in the future.” Tom Selten, team leader for Solar
Team Eindhoven, explains.
The final stop was a Popular Science Expo where the public saw Stella
Lux up close. In addition to business leaders, technologists and universities,
it’s important to get consumers interested in solar powered electric
vehicles – after all they are the ones who have to be convinced to buy
“Coming from Europe, we’re accustomed to clean air. Here they
have much bigger issues with smog and poor air quality. So it’s great
to be able to show the people of Shanghai a product that could improve the
quality of their everyday life,” Tom adds.
“It’s exciting and frustrating at the same time—while
Stella Lux may be part of the solution, there is only one of them for now. So
watch this space.”
Martijn is based in NXP’s Eindhoven headquarters where he’s been an integral member
of NXP’s corporate communications team since 2007. He spearheads internal and
external PR and communications initiatives, as well as NXP corporate sponsorships
with university partners and policymakers.