No sooner was Morocco over, it was time to start a new challenge with a new team.
This time, the location was South Africa for the Sasol Solar Challenge, a race across the country starting from Johannesburg and covering 2500km to Cape Town at a rate of 250 – 300km per day. With Tine Wildiers at the helm as the Race Strategist, the team put in months of preparation for the race, modifying the car and its batteries and deciding on tactics.
But the Solar Challenge is so much more than simply a race. It is an opportunity for young engineers to put their talents to the test and to push themselves to the limit. They spent months developing a solar vehicle, tweaking it to make it as fast and efficient as possible. On top of engineering, they needed to be broadcasters and journalists, conveying the story of their journey. They needed to be resourceful, resilient and think on their feet and overcome inevitable problems along the way. As we know, this is an unpredictable race where anything can happen.
A Serious Message
The challenge also shines a light on the importance of sustainability. The solar technology developed by the teams improves every year. The insight gained from the development of these vehicles can be shared and used to inform advancement of battery technology. It also brings home to those that enjoy watching the race that solar power is truly the energy of tomorrow as we continue to wean ourselves off fossil fuels and look for alternative power sources.
"Because we drive from Johannesburg to Cape Town, we cross a lot of remote areas where people don’t have access to an internet connection. We make calculations based on the data that the solar car is sending out. We calculate things based on weather data. These are all things that you have to use the internet for. Communications with other people is also important.” – Tine Wildiers – Race Strategist, Agoria Solar Team
The Solar Team are from KU Leuven, a renowned Belgian university. They used the ITversity Belgian Campus in Gauteng as a base to prepare the solar car. The Belgium Campus is a pioneering ITversity in South Africa that helps to raise the bar in private education through its graduates in the ICT industry.
The team arrived on August 11 and were able to test the car and finalize their race strategy.
The stay at the ITversity also gave resident students the opportunity to tour the workshop and get to grips with the technology and gain an understanding of what it takes to prepare for this event.
ST Engineering iDirect held a customer event with the Solar Team during their time at the ITversity and were able to highlight the importance of satellite technology to enable connectivity during the race and to encourage networking between the students and local satellite players.
This year, we continued our partnership with Kymeta and Intelsat to deliver critical mobile connectivity. Combining Kymeta’s latest Hawk u8 antenna which features our integrated modem technology and Intelsat’s FlexMove managed service. Connectivity is tough to come by in the regions that the solar car was traversing. Therefore, satellite is the only option available to equip teams with the communications they need to successfully navigate the course. The FlexMove solution empowered the team to quickly and easily leverage connected mobility and portable connectivity solutions. The team didn’t need to wait for resources or capacity to free up – it was all covered through the service. The Kymeta Hawk u8 is rugged, highly portable and rapidly deployed and offered the perfect antenna solution for this race and the tough conditions is involved.
The Agoria team were safe in the knowledge that they could stream video, send large files, receive meteorological data and connect with loved ones and fans at any time during the race.
Many congratulations to the Agoria Solar team on placing SECOND in the Sasol Solar Challenge. It was such a tight event with the top two teams playing cat and mouse. Well done to the team for their incredible dedication and resilience.
We’re already looking forward to the next race!