Solar cars roll across Earth's driest desert

On your mark, get set, go! The second annual Solar Challenge has begun in the Atacama desert in Chile. Fifteen cars will travel over 800 miles during the course of the four-day race.

SANTIAGO, Chile — The second annual Solar Challenge has begun in Chile's Atacama desert, where 15 solar-powered cars rolled out of an old salt mine Thursday.

The solar-powered prototypes will travel more than 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) through the world's driest desert in the four-day, multinational race.

There are two categories: cars powered only by solar energy, and three-wheeled models that get a little help from pedals pushed by the drivers themselves.

The cars had to be built for less than $7,000, forcing their makers to be creative more than wealthy. Most of the teams represent university engineering departments.

The big finish comes Monday, and the winners get prizes of $30,000 in the solar category and $9,000 in the hybrid category.