Case Study: Network Innovations Keep the Agoria Solar Team Connected

The Agoria Solar Team celebrates second place in Sasol Solar Challenge, supported by global on-the-move communications.

Safety is the most important aspect of all our solar challenges. Connectivity is a must-have for our strategy department.

- Tine Wildiers, Agoria Solar Team

The Challenge

Composed of thirty-one Belgian engineering students, the Agoria Solar Team competes to build the most innovative and efficient solar car - embarking on solar challenges across the globe. They construct a brand-new vehicle every two years to participate in international races and showcase the power of green energy.

In 2021, the Agoria Solar Team raced their new car, BluePoint Atlas, in Solar Challenge Morocco. In 2022, they traveled to South Africa for Atlas's second race - Sasol Solar Challenge.

This challenge is renowned for its difficulty, due in part to diverse weather conditions and an altitude drop of nearly 2,000 meters.

The route from Johannesburg to Cape Town included five provinces and eighteen towns, making Sasol Solar Challenge the team's longest-distance competition to date. With the distance, weather, and challenging terrain in mind, reliable communication took the gold medal spot on their list of priorities while racing.

Seamless communication between teammates in remote locations was essential for the Agoria Solar Team's strategy. For the second year running, they turned to Network Innovations for a solution.




Sasol Solar Challenge Overview:

Sasol Solar Challenge has a unique concept. Instead of driving a fixed distance as fast as possible, the goal is to drive the most kilometers in eight days.

The event traditionally spans more than 2,500 km, with local and international teams putting newly developed technology to the test as they pass through SA towns.

Each race day is called a “Stage” - teams must start each race day in one city and end in another. They can choose to add loops along the route, adding extra kilometers to their total distance.

There is just one catch: teams have to arrive at the finish line that day before 5 pm, otherwise, they lose points.

The Solution

solar-highwayIn September 2022, after weeks of preparation, the Agoria Solar Team started its tour of South Africa. With the aim of achieving reliable, autonomous connectivity, Network Innovations supplied two Thales MissionLINK 700 terminals, powered by Iridium Certus, for global satellite communications.

The most crucial part of the team's strategy was getting from point A to point B in the safest way possible. Mounted on the crew cars leading the convoy, the MissionLINK 700’s - unaffected by weather or landscape - provided reliable data connectivity throughout the race.

Crew members driving ahead of BluePoint Atlas could warn others of any unforeseen weather or road conditions, ensuring decisions for an optimal strategy could be made at every crucial moment.

In the times when we were traveling through remote areas, we were extremely thankful for the MissionLINK terminals. Communication between our team was

- Tine Wildiers

On day five, BluePoint Atlas needed to make a road stop, positioning itself at an ideal solar angle. The use of Google Maps and communication between the team meant that the pilot avoided making multiple turning points when stopping, and no precious time was lost. The reliable satellite link proved to be indispensable.

The Results

solar-tunnelOver eight days, the Agoria Solar Team overcame the challenges of a flat tire, a battery failure, and difficult terrain - while maintaining a leading race position. Beginning the final stage with a gap of only 10 kilometers, they crossed the finish line in second place.

The Agoria Solar Team remained connected throughout the fast-paced competition in South Africa. Equipped with an all-encompassing, transportable satellite solution for remote communication, internet connectivity, data transfer, and asset tracking.

Network Innovations looks forward to a continued partnership, ensuring the team can continue “Redefining Possibilities”.

Every second counts in solar racing. Having satellite connectivity throughout Sasol Solar Challenge provided us with the capability to communicate between 8 different cars, over 4,000 km in South Africa. Thank you, Network Innovations.

- Tine Wildiers, Agoria Solar Team
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