Nuon Solar Team adds autonomous cruise control to solar car

The Nuon Solar Team has added autonomous cruise control to its Nuna9S solar car. Using radar and GPS, the system obtains an impression of the environment, where the speed can be adjusted to increase efficiency.

The students of the Nuon Solar Team developed an on-board computer for the Nuna9S called OXII, based on the BeagleBone Black computing board. A codebase of ‘a hundred A4 pages’ runs on it, according to the makers. This system allows the team to implement intelligent functions that were too complex for the previous Nuna cars.

In addition, the car contains a radar, which can detect vehicles up to 200 meters. With this information, the Nuna can adjust its speed and drive more safely in crowded environments. At the Sasol Solar Challenge, a 4,500-kilometer race that starts this week in Pretoria, South Africa, the Nuna also runs on busy highways, unlike the Australian Solar Challenge route.

In South Africa, the solar car also has to deal with more hills than in Australia. The Nuna9S can use maps from TomTom and GPS data to get an indication of the hilly terrain and to adjust the speed on ascent and descent. “It does this in such a way that the strategically calculated target speed is maintained on average,” according to the Nuon Solar Team.

The Nuna9S is almost identical to the Nuna9 except for the Intelligent Cruise Control, with dimensions of 3.30×1.60 meters and a weight of 141 kilograms. The surface of solar panels covers 1.64m². On Monday, the vehicle passed the technical inspection for the Sasol Solar Challenge.