How the Venturi Astrolab Works

Pointing the Way to Zero-Emissions Driving
A film embedded with nano-prisms covers Astrolab's solar cells, maximizing their ability to capture energy from the sun.
A film embedded with nano-prisms covers Astrolab's solar cells, maximizing their ability to capture energy from the sun.
Michel Zumbrunn/Courtesy of Venturi

Extensive road testing of the Astrolab concept has proven it worthy of daily commutes. If it starts out with a full charge, the Astrolab can travel up to 68 miles (110 kilometers) before its batteries need to be refreshed. Solar energy gathered on an average day by the solar cells contributes about 11 miles (18 kilometers) to the Astrolab's range. Its top speed is reported to be 75 mph (120 kilometers per hour).

Venturi says the battery pack, which weighs 238 pounds (108 kilograms), is good for more than 2,500 charging cycles. Based on anticipated normal use, the batteries should last for at least 10 years.

What does the future hold in store for the Astrolab? Well, don't expect to buy one any time soon. Venturi plainly states, "The Venturi Astrolab is for now a concept car and won't be commercialized. We developed it to show how far we can go with the photovoltaic technology and to prove that an electric car can have very good performance with little energy."

Venturi says it has gained a considerable head start on electro-solar vehicle development with the Astrolab. "It meets the needs of people's inter-urban travel," the firm says, adding, "It is at the forefront of the best that is being achieved in terms of technology." Venturi is very pleased with the solar yield produced by the Astrolab's solar panel. They say the advances made with the Astrolab "allow us to hope for even higher yields in the years to come."

Has this lightweight car that takes energy from the sun given us a glimpse into a fully green future, where we'll need only daylight to power our transportation? Time will tell.

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