For many years now Electrical Engineering students at the US Naval Academy have been involved in renewal energy types of projects, including electric boats and cars, and have participated in various competitions across the US. Of particular interest to us is the electric car, since it involves various aspects of electrical engineering. As part of their senior capstone project, and under our guidance and supervision, four students designed, built, and tested the power generation and distribution system, the motor control system for an electric car. This was accomplished by converting an originally gas-powered car into a battery-powered car, whereby solar panels are used to recharge the batteries. Towards this end, a mix of off the shelf parts and components, and homebuilt circuits were used. The design considerations include selecting an appropriate control system, choosing suitable batteries, utilizing solar panels to recharge the batteries, designing the lighting system for the vehicle, and implementing several key safety features, including an emergency shut-off switch.
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