Engineering students rely on Inmarsat during solar race

A team of engineering students taking part in the World Solar Challenge will rely on Inmarsat to give them a high-tech edge.

Solar Team Twente, a group of 16 students from the University of Twente and Saxion in the Netherlands, will use BGAN connectivity to monitor the performance of their solar-powered car, The Red Engine.

Inmarsat is sponsoring them with equipment, airtime and on-the-ground support at the university and in Australia, where the biennial race takes place.

Vehicular terminals
The Red Engine, which was unveiled this week by King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, will cover the 3,021 km (1,877-mile) route south from Darwin to Adelaide powered only by the sun.

During the eight-day race this October, the vehicle will be linked wirelessly to a support team in a Decision Control Unit (DCU) car following it.

They will receive live telemetry from the The Red Engine to enable them to modify race strategy to suit ever-changing environmental conditions.

Emergency back-up
Utilising Inmarsat's BGAN service, the team members in the DCU will be able to access data from anywhere in the world, including the latest images from weather satellites, and connect to other support vehicles, which may be several hundred kilometres apart.

The Inmarsat service will also help the race team keep friends, family and fans up-to-date on their progress through updates on their website and via social media.

In addition, the university students will be equipped with IsatPhone Pro handheld satellite phones so that in the event of emergency they will be able to call for help, even in the Outback.

Energy efficiency
“Solar cars rely on total energy efficiency and we're proud to back Solar Team Twente's entry, which is a truly remarkable vehicle,” said Gerbrand Schalkwijk, Vice President, Inmarsat Enterprise Energy.

“Our lightweight and compact mobile satellite solutions will enable the team to remain in touch wherever they are, relaying important research data back to HQ and keeping their fans updated via social media.”

Inaugurated in 1987, the World Solar Challenge showcases the development of advanced automotive technology and promotes alternatives to conventional vehicle engines. It attracts teams from leading universities and technical institutes worldwide, as well as individual entrepreneurs.

Solar Team Twente:
World Solar Challenge: