Opening its doors to the public last Thursday, London’s Olympic Park hosted Shell’s Make the Future London festival, home this year to first ever Driver’s World Championship, an ultra-energy-efficient driving challenge.  More than 3000 students from schools and universities in 29 countries around the world took part in Shell’s Eco-marathon Europe over the course of the weekend, some scrambling to get their cars finished just hours before the starting flag fell.

The competition drew together the best ‘Urban Concept’ cars from regional challenges in North America, Asia and Europe, setting them head to head in a flat out race around London’s twisting and sloping track.  Before being let loose on the track however, each team had to pass a rigorous safety check, testing everything from the vehicles braking system to the driver’s escape time in case of an emergency.

In total, 184 teams were given the all-clear to compete, with the top prize ultimately being awarded to the Universitas Pendidikan from Indonesia.  The winning team were rewarded with a week-long training session with Formula 1 racing team Scuderia Ferrari in Italy.  During their week away, the team will be coached by the experts, looking at how to improve their technology for next year’s event.

Alongside playing host to the annual Eco-marathon, the four day festival of innovation celebrated some of the brightest and most exciting solutions to the global energy challenge.  More than 30,000 visitors flocked to the park over the weekend, and the festival even saw guest appearances from TV presenters Rachel Riley and Alex Brooker, along with giants of the sporting world Pelé and Kimi Räikkonen.

Interactive exhibits introduced future energy ideas, including a modified football pitch provided by Pavegen, and demonstrated by Pelé himself.  The electricity generating floor tiles fed off the kinetic energy of the footballers above them, adding time onto the clock for a penalty shoot-out.

Also displaying their clean energy innovation was the Gravity Light Foundation, showing their environmentally friendly alternative to kerosene lamps in off-grid locations.  The light works by hooking up a ballast bag weighing less than 10KG, which falls slowly to earth.  As the bag drops under the influence of gravity, it pulls a strap, which in turn spins internal gears and drives an electric generator, powering an LED light for around 25 minutes. Not only does the light aim to reduce dependency on Kerosene in off-grid areas, it also wants to tackle the poverty caused by the lack of access to electricity.

Inside the main tent were even more opportunities to get hands on with the future of energy, as visitors raced inflatable ‘zorbs’ to produce the most electricity in just 15 seconds and experienced the cities of the future in virtual reality.

Over in the Olympic Stadium, the Shell Powering Progress Together forum brought together innovators, scientists and economists to discuss how we can become a lower-carbon society.

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