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We tested the ultra-energy-efficient vehicles that are going to revolutionise driving

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The Shell Eco-marathon media preview took place last week at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London.

Shell Echo Marathon Vehicle - Photo Courtesy of Oxford Robotics

The real event, coming up next week, is a competition that will see student teams all over Europe challenging one another in the creation and driving skills of ultra-energy-efficient vehicles.

In the meantime, the National Student was invited to the preview and this is what we found.

1. The students are absolutely great

Colchester Institute, Team Pteron 2016

We had the chance to talk to students from University College London (Team Hydrone) and Colchester Institute (Team Pteron).

These brilliant and committed individuals have not only designed their own cars, but also built them from scratch using new and innovative technologies. And their passion is contagious.

They explained to The National Student that the race is about doing a certain amount of laps in a maximum time limit of 39 minutes. Being about fuel optimisation, important aspects to perform well in the competition are the efficiency of the drivetrain (the group of components that deliver power to the driving wheels) and driving strategy.

It’s not about the speed, it’s about the fuel consumption.

2. These cars are super cool but not exactly easy to drive

We tested some of the vehicles ourselves, and we can guarantee that the futuristic shape and extreme fuel efficiency come to a price.

Although it was an exhilarating experience in its own right, I could barely fit in one of the prototypes (I’m 5.9 ft.), and I was so close to the ground I though the car would flip over when taking a rough turn. Again, the competing students will spend almost 40 minutes in there, their commitment is truly admirable!

3. Ultra-energy-efficient vehicles, from the track to every day streets


We’ve been taken for a ride around the streets of London on one of the Shell UrbanConcept vehicles, and you will be surprised to know that this piece of engineering can reach 200 miles to the gallon.

Slightly heavier than the event-competing cars to make it road-legal, the vehicle does not go unnoticed. It made many heads turn and it was an absolutely enjoyable ride!

This UrbanConcept car was created to showcase how students’ concepts can be taken from the track and applied to everyday streets. 

4. Self-driving cars are as cool as they get

Oxford Robotics and the SEM technical team have created the first fuel-efficient self-driving car. The “Autonomous” can automatically record a certain route or itinerary as you’re driving it, and save it onto its system to re-execute it a second time without human action.

It is powered by a computer processor that constantly scans the surroundings of the vehicle in order to recognise variations from the recorded route. Upon finding a difference from the previous execution, the car will automatically recognise the variation as an obstacle and either try to dodge it or stop the vehicle.

We have been on the Autonomous too, and it was an absolutely interesting experience. You can find more information about Oxford Robotics here.

With these and many more interesting pearls to discover, the Shell Eco-marathon Europe 2017 will take place at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, from May 25-28. You can find further details and book your free tickets to the event here.

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