Students to prove solar-powered cars aren't science fiction

Six student teams from the United States will see if they can made it across Australia on energy from the sun.

More than 40 student teams around the world are gearing up for the World Solar Challenge in Australia in sunny October, which is a good thing because the cars they plan to race are solar-powered.

This year, as reported by ZDNet's sister site SmartPlanet ("Solar-powered cars to race across Australia"), there are six American teams in the 41-team field who are vying to become the first Americans to win the race since the very first year in 1987. Yep, the race has been going on that long. And, yep, we haven't managed to win since then. The last time the race was run two years ago, SmartPlanet reports, the winners were from Tokai University, with an entry that averaged 62 miles per hour.

Here's hoping that one of the U.S. teams -- from Stanford University, University of Michigan, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California at Berkeley, Principia College and Houston High School in Mississippi -- can pull across the finish line first, this time. Regardless of who wins, though, you won't see one of these hotrods in commercial production for some time.

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