İTÜ’s New Pride ARUNA Will Tour Turkey in August
Apr 01, 2015

Turkey will meet the country’s first 4-seater, solar powered car “ARUNA” in August 2015. ARUNA that consumes 1 kuruş worth of energy per kilometer, spends as much energy as a household water heater while travelling at a 70 km/hour speed. İTÜ Solar Car Team (İTÜ GAE) that is Turkey’s solar car team with the largest number of cups is both excited and assertive about the new vehicle: “We strongly believe that with ARUNA we will contribute to national automobile efforts to become serious.”

ARUNA will go on a tour of Turkey in August starting from İstanbul and will be back in İstanbul after traversing 16 cities. In October, it will go cross-continental to Australia and represent our country in World Solar Challenge that is being organized since 1987. Our students aiming to give İTÜ and our country a new pride said, “We want to show Turkey’s advance in renewable energy and electric vehicle technologies by becoming the first Turkish team to finish the 3 thousand km WSC racecourse in Australia.”

26 İTÜ students from various departments work for ARUNA. İTÜ GAE Team Leader and Electrical Engineering Department Student Burak Oklar and İTÜ GAE Organization Supervisor and Civil Engineering Department Student Murat Kütük described their project and their goals:

“Solar Powered Family Car” will be a first for Turkey and you will compete globally. How does that make the team feel?
- Its being a first will be an important source of publicity for both our team and our university, so we are excited. We produced 7 single-seater cars in 10 years. Not having the experience to produce a 4-seater car was a disadvantage for us. Yet when we started designing, we saw that we didn’t lack much. We only needed to make some changes. We were frightened at the beginning but now we don’t have such fear, we work at full speed. World Solar Challenge (WSC) that we will attend will be held on 18-25 October 2015 in Australia. The race is held in 3 distinct classes. We used to compete in Challenger class but now we are in Cruiser class. We expect a few more teams to switch to that class. It is a breathtaking concept. It’s a shot in the arm after single-seat vehicles.

Which stage of the vehicle needs more effort? Design phase or production phase?
-We had lots of problems with shell design. We wanted our vehicle to have an original design. In the meantime we examined many vehicles; how are their contours, what are their aerodynamic properties, we learned from many vehicles. Aerodynamics was in the forefront for the efficiency of the vehicles we produced until today. Functionality also assumed importance in this vehicle.

Does this kind of vehicle have other examples in the world?

- World Solar Challenge is being organized in Australia once in 2 years since 1987. Bochum University went beyond the design of ordinary solar powered vehicles in 2011 to produce a vehicle of Cruiser class and received a lot of appreciation. Cruiser class was incorporated by reference to their vehicle called BOcruiser. Bochum University entered Guinness Book of Records by driving their vehicle 23 thousand km in 4 continents. In 2013 Eindhoven University made a tour of America. New South Wales University also entered Guinness Book of Records in another branch with the vehicle they produced. They are currently working on legally driving their vehicle on the roads. It has many examples in the world even though it is a new class.

‘It will be rolling in July’

Can you describe ARUNA’s properties?
- We have a limit of 6 square meters of solar panel according to World Solar Challenge regulations. In this vehicle we will use approximately 5 square meters. This gives us a maximum instantaneous power of 1.2 kW. We can charge it with only solar power in about 11 hours. It takes a long time since it has a large battery pack. We plan to charge it in 2 hours with a 7.5 kW charging unit we will set up in our workshop as an alternative. We aim to traverse about 500 km without receiving energy from the sun while going at a speed of 70 km/hours. At this speed we spend as much power as a household water heater. According to the regulations of the competition we will attend, we have a lithium-ion battery of 60 kg. This amount is very low for an ordinary car but for ARUNA it means a range of 500 km in regular usage. Our vehicle’s being 3 times more aerodynamical than ordinary vehicles has a bearing on this.

Can a cost comparison with gasoline powered vehicles be made?
- Actually if the variable fuel prices are considered, making a km/kuruş calculation is not a healthy method but even in the current period in which fuel prices are pretty low we can say that we are far ahead in km/kuruş ratio. If we consider that an average gasoline powered vehicle consumes 7 lt/100 km fuel, we see that it uses 30 kuruş per kilometer. Aruna consumes 1 kuruş worth of electricity per kilometer. If the solar energy and regenerative brake system is included in this calculation, this amount drops to as low as 0.8 kuruş.

In which stage is the vehicle at the moment?
- Aruna’s design finished at the end of January 2015 and was delivered to our main sponsor Hexagon Studio for mold production. If all goes well we will have our molds at the beginning of April and we will start the production of the carbon fiber body. We received our electronic circuit cards, our electric team is working on them to get the whole system ready. Mechanical design is about to finish and will be sent to production. We are planning June to be the month of assembly. We will be rolling our vehicle on 1 July.

‘ARUNA is Coming!’

After the vehicle completes, you will go on a Tour of Turkey...
- We would like to tour twice the WSC distance by traversing 6 thousand km in Turkey before going to WSC. We believe that to be an opportunity for introducing our sponsors, our vehicle and all the work of İTÜ members as well.

When will the tour begin?

- We plan to start our Tour of Turkey on the second week of August. Currently the intended start date is 10 August.

Is the itinerary settled?
- We will start the demonstration in İstanbul, cross the FSM bridge and go to Ankara. Then we will traverse Samsun, Trabzon, Erzurum, Erzincan, Sivas, Malatya, Gaziantep, Adana, Kayseri, Konya, Antalya, İzmir, Bursa, Çanakkale and Edirne and return to İstanbul. We would like to traverse the final leg between Edirne-İstanbul after sunset in order to show that the solar car can also travel during the night.

Are you planning a specific informative event or events in the cities visited?
- We will realize an extensive publicity program before the tour. We will feature on billboards in all İstanbul and printed-visual press and make our people say “Aruna is coming!” In every city we visit we plan to realize publicity in the city center or at a symbolic place.

‘We have been trapped in the desert, we had an accident’

You had lots of important achievements in 10 years. Your team has an endless stability and enthusiasm. What’s İTÜ GAE’s difference?
- We attended 2014 TÜBİTAK Formula-G competition with 18 persons. 5 of our friends left. This year many of us will become senior students or will graduate. Accordingly 13 new friends joined our team to provide the team’s continuity. There are currently 26 of us. As for our difference, from whichever department they come everyone’s enthusiasm is held at a high level. A healthy and proper division of labour is made. Here we have a beautiful family atmosphere. You get the feeling that your sibling will sadden if you don’t do your duty... That always keeps your enthusiasm for work alive. Moreover, experienced members support fresh members and transfer their know-how. And that’s İTÜ GAE’s greatest difference...

Your work is not only project-based but also academically focused. You achieved success in that sense, too.
- Yes, we reached top level in academic studies in 2013. We organized a conference in Budapest and wrote a journal article in English. Its publication is currently in progress. We value senior projects. This year we are writing a paper for the Composite Conference to be organized in the Faculty of Aeronautics and Astronautics. We make a point of making an academic publication every year. Our professors have a great share in this. We, as students, both struggle with the courses and have to devote time to the project. In fact, we work in the project and have to allocate time to our courses. Our professors encourage us about academic publications. We are happy about this, it is nice to be considered as such.

What is your goal in the 10. year?
- Our first goal is to get the vehicle on the road and complete the Tour of Turkey successfully. Then we want to show Turkey’s advance in renewable energy and electric vehicle technologies by becoming the first Turkish team to finish the 3 thousand km WSC.

We are actually talking about very tedious, difficult and lengthy work. It is plain that a devoted work is required to continue the project...

- Exactly. We sometimes go through things that affect us adversely. For example, in the race of 2013 in Australia, the car accompanying our race car was filled with the wrong type of oil so that there was a fire and our friends were trapped in the desert. That was an incident that affected us. We had another incident before 2014 TÜBİTAK Formula-G competition. After performing all the tests on the vehicle, we decided to make a final test on the Etiler road. During the test, we couldn’t negotiate the turn and we had an accident. We had two weeks left until the race. We were hoping to rest during that two weeks but we started working again and restored our vehicle. During the race week we were out of luck again. Our team members were racing for the first time, we were inexperienced. We spun a few times during the qualifying laps and as a result we had to start the final race on the 11. grid position. Despite all these adversities, we finished the race as the second.

‘We are different from other examples in the world’

Do you have a message for the sponsor companies who would like to support you?
- This vehicle will be a first in Turkey. We also differ from other examples in the world because it is a 4-door sedan vehicle. We believe that we can do it. We don’t only make promises, we have a strong hand. We started producing the vehicle and we will be on the road on 1 July. We believe this to be a great publicity opportunity for the sponsor companies. They will be supporting one of Turkey’s most successful student projects as well.

Is there a company you are in contact with? Is mass production a very remote possibility?
- As a non-profit student project in İTÜ it is not possible to mass-produce Aruna. However, if we achieve our plans we will bring forth an automobile that can be used in daily life. Maybe we will not be a big gun but we strongly believe that we will make a mark in Turkey’s national automobile efforts and that we will contribute to national automobile efforts to become serious by changing the public opinion on the subject.