I know that “local news” isn’t exactly what Geek News Central fans are after. But when I saw this particular item, I couldn’t pass it by without mentioning it here. I live in the city of San Luis Obispo (SLO) on California’s Central Coast. SLO is home to California Polytechnic State University, Cal Poly for short. The university fosters a “learning by doing” mentality that helps students build skills in everything from agricultural sciences to aerospace engineering. One group of Cal Poly students earned some notoriety recently when they competed in a vehicle design competition where they built a prototype capable of getting 1,215 miles per gallon of fuel.
The team of students competed in the 10th Annual Shell Eco-Marathon Americas. The event describes itself as:
In 2016, Shell Eco-marathon Americas celebrated its 10th edition with 124 teams from seven different countries in Detroit, USA. In April 2017, the competition comes back to the Motor City with the energy efficiency driving challenge.
The Cal Poly team’s prototype vehicle design came in third overall, and placed the highest among teams from the United States (two Canadian teams placed ahead of them). The vehicle is a single-person, very sleek, aerodynamic, low-riding three-wheeler. It’s definitely not street legal but that’s not really the point. The Eco-Marathon is meant to challenge participants to build vehicles that are as fuel efficient as possible.
The Cal Poly group’s prototype vehicle was designed in the same spirit as Solar Impulse. It’s not so much something you can use today for getting around. But it shows there is real potential for energy-efficient forms of travel.