'Stella' Conquerors 385 Mile Solar-Powered Journey to San Francisco

Sep 25, 2014 10:50 AM EDT | Matt Mercuro


A solar-powered family vehicle completed a drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco this week, covering almost 385 miles on sunshine.

"It was great to see all the people looking at us; hurrying to get their smartphones out to get pictures while we were driving," said Lex Hoefsloot, manager of Solar Team Eindhoven, according to TakePart.

"I think we caused some traffic jams and we were worried some drivers might run into us while trying to take pictures," Hoefsloot added.

Hoefsloot, from Eindhoven University of Technology, helped design and build "Stella" during what turned into a school-wide project that won a World Solar Car challenge race across Australia in 2013.

Earlier this month, Stella launched a US tour in Detroit at the Intelligent Transportation Society World Congress.

The team successfully drove to San Francisco to join sponsor NXP Semiconductors for a car communication event.

"We think it is possible to make these cars and have them in a showroom in five to 10 years, but it is a big dream and something we have to really work on," said Hoefsloot.

The vehicle is capable of traveling up to 500 miles on a single charge and can reach speeds up to 80 mph, according to TakePart.

The four-seater has solar cells on top of its roof, which provides power while driving. The 1.5-kilowatt array of solar panels supplies power to the car's lithium ion battery.

Towards the back of the vehicle, the panels can be lifted up to reveal a boot, and other features like a steering wheel that expands when a driver goes too fast and contracts when the vehicle is going too slow, according to TakePart.

Stella can also communicate with other cars and traffic lights.

A tablet screen inside the car is designed to tell drivers how long they have until a light up ahead turns green or red, according to TakePart.

Getting inside the vehicle would be tricky for most people, as it is less than 4 feet tall. Stella weighs 855lbs, and is 15ft long.

The body is made of carbon fibre, and its aerodynamic shape allows it to increase its driving range.

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