Helia: One of the World's Most Efficient Electric Cars

About

I recruited and led a cross-functional team of 20 engineers at Cambridge University to develop, manufacture, and race “Helia", a practical four-seat solar-powered electric family car. Helia was the first multiple-occupancy vehicle that CUER had built in its 11-year history, requiring over 35,000 person-hours of work. I lead the team full time, taking a year out of my studies between my Bachelor's and Master's degrees, which is very rare at the University of Cambridge. 

Helia was built as a demonstrator for what can be achieved with today's EV and renewable technologies. The project was supported by a group of British Engineering partners that are world leaders in automotive engineering, research and development, and high-value manufacturing. 

I successfully delivered the project despite high uncertainties in funding, irregular manpower availability, high technical risk, and major manufacturing setbacks. It was the most ambitious project CUER has undertaken, with a short timeline and fixed deadline, and one of the team's most successful projects. 

Achievements

One of the World's most efficient family cars (2.5kW power consumption at 80kph)

900km pure EV range

3rd Place in BWSC Cruiser Class Practicality Judging

First CUER Top 10 ranking at BWSC (8th Cruiser Class)

3rd Place BWSC Cruiser Class Debutants

Bridgestone World Solar Challenge

The Bridgestone World Solar Challenge is one of the toughest Solar Car competitions on the planet, requiring teams to drive 3000km through public roads in the Australia Outback. 

The competition is dominated by teams with 20+ full-time members and multi-million-dollar budgets, requiring us to be very resourceful in order to be competitive with fewer resources. 

Former competitors at the World Solar Challenge include the former CTO of Tesla, JB Straubel.

 

He said "Solar car team’s technologies are often ahead of their time in terms of looking at next best generation of batteries, best solar panels, best motors and converters, things like that.” and that his involvement in the team was "key" to Tesla's inception.

Team

Cambridge University Eco Racing's primary objective is to serve as a learning platform and allow its members to develop engineering, project management, and entrepreneurial skills whilst delivering a complex real-world project. 

I recruited a fantastic cross-functional team of 20 including Mechanical Engineers, Aerodynamicists, Electrical Engineers, Software Engineers, and Designers who worked together to design Helia from the ground up with the support of our partners and mentors. 

Technology

I created and managed a large network of automotive experts, academics, and 11 technical partners to collaborate and deliver a professional quality prototype vehicle using industry-leading technology.

Our partners (listed below) allowed us unprecedented access to cutting edge materials, design methods, and manufacturing techniques. This included: 

  • Pulse arc welded battery pack using 18650 cells for testing 

  • Ultrasonic wire-bonded race battery pack using 21700 cells 

  • Pre-preg carbon fibre chassis and body panels

  • Tooling board chassis and body panel moulds 

  • Ultra-high efficiency motors and motor controllers 

  • Ultra-lightweight pressed composite seats 

  • Motorsport grade roll cage

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Gallery

Our Partners and Donors