What’s more impressive than a car that can do over a thousand miles per gallon? One that was designed by school kids.
In the UK, students from regional schools and universities took part in the annual Mileage Marathon Challenge near Leicester, England, each team vying to set new gas mileage efficiency records in a race around a track. Cars were allowed to coast, but had to maintain a minimum speed of 15 miles per hour. Students worked on the vehicle prototypes, many in partnership with design and engineering firms.
The winner of the 20-team competition, pictured above, was a vehicle driven by 14-year-old Sam Chapman-Hill, which reached a 1,980 mile-per-gallon efficiency. Its aerodynamic design, reminiscent of something from a sci-fi film, weighs just under 100 pounds and is made mostly of plastic reinforced by glass.
One driver, 11-year-old Kitty Foster, completed her race in a model that used a Cambridge Design Partnership oxygen concentrator and micro-diesel engine to reach 1,325 miles per gallon:
The car was also tracked using GPS to optimize its strategy during the race, communicating to Kitty when the perfect moment to stop the engine and start coasting arrived. Those with smartphones were encouraged to track the car’s speed and location during the race.
The Challenge is organized to excite students about tech and engineering, and the prototypes built are unlikely to be mass produced anytime soon. They do demonstrate what’s possible, however, and could inspire car manufacturers to keep innovating towards greater efficiency.