Bridgestone World Solar Challenge Champions - Agoria Solar Team - overcomes connectivity barriers with help from Network Innovations.
About the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge & the Agoria Solar Team
The Bridgestone World Solar Challenge (BWSC), is the world’s most notorious solar-powered car race. The event welcomes the greatest minds from around the world to Australia to push the limits of technological innovation and travel 3021 kilometers through the Outback, from Darwin to Adelaide, in a solar-powered vehicle.
Twenty students form the basis of the Agoria Solar Team and they had fifteen months to design and construct the next solar car which would participate in the Challenger Class of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge of 2019. The assembly of their solar car, BluePoint, began on 2nd July 2019 with engineers building and testing the vehicle themselves.
A challenge that the solar team faced was that there is little to no coverage throughout the outback. The support car would be travelling the distance of 100km ahead of the convoy and had no way of communicating with the team, with their previous forms of communication, such as VHF and walkie talkie, proving to be insufficient. It was also crucial that the team could access the internet, enabling them to check the weather forecast and see live satellite images. Without this, they risked being caught by surprise with unpredictable conditions throughout the race. A satellite link was required.
"The first company we thought of that would be able to help us was Network Innovations." - Agoria Solar Team (2019)
It was clear that this event was more of a challenge than a race. With the rule that all groups must be fully self-sufficient, the barrier of connectivity needed to be addressed. The Solar Team had previously worked alongside Network Innovations in the past, so when connectivity was proving to be testing, they got in contact straight away regarding a sponsorship.
Network Innovations provided the team with two Thales MissionLINK 350 terminals, a compact and user-friendly antenna that provides global coverage, using Iridium’s Certus broadband service. A seamless solution. MissionLINK is unaffected by weather and landscapes, providing the team with the essential communication they needed.
On the 13th October 2019 the race & their journey began. The weather posed multiple challenges to the team throughout the race. Once they arrived in Alice Springs, the sky was completely overcast, leading their competitors ahead to lose charge and in turn, fall behind. Thanks to the reliable connectivity provided by the satellite terminals, the Agoria Solar Team could gain contact with their weather car, leading to a change in strategy. When the team arrived at the control stop, the sun was shining.
On the penultimate day of the race, the team were able to close a 43-minute time gap thanks to their racing strategy and on the final day, took first place - 250km before the finish, taking the world champion title. It was Connethe first time the team experienced “always on” connectivity, enabling them to consistently communicate with their weather car. This meant they made informed decisions throughout the race - a clear advantage to having a satellite link.
Network Innovations provided support that played a crucial part in the team’s success, helping install and test the MissionLINK terminals in Belgium and supplying them with a complete working set up ready for race day. A big congratulations to the Agoria Solar Team in their well-deserved triumph!
"The MissionLINK terminals greatly contributed to the win. The Network Innovations team helped us install and test the terminals in Belgium, provided us with a working set up (terminals, Sim card, POTS telephones) and set us up on NI Track, what a help that was." - Agoria Solar Team (2019)