ThinKom Solutions provided satellite connectivity for two of the top competitors in the recent Bridgestone World Solar Challenge which was held from October 13 to 18.
The 2019 challenge included 53 solar-powered vehicles designed and built by teams of university students from 23 countries.
The 3,000-km race course extended across the Australian continent from Darwin to Adelaide. For much of the route through the remote outback, terrestrial wireless communication networks are unreachable or non-existent.
Two of the entries – the Belgian Agoria Solar Team and the Dutch Nuon Vattenfall Solar Team – had access to high-speed satellite communications on the move (COTM) throughout the race due to ThinKom ThinSat 300 phased-array antennas that were mounted on the teams’ support vehicles.
The ThinKom antennas provided voice and broadband data services to teams while traveling at highway speeds on- and off-road. In addition to maintaining constant two-way communication with the drivers on the road, the COTM systems provided live feeds to news media covering the event.
The Nuon Vattenfall team streamed more than 77 hours of live HD video on its YouTube and Facebook channels. The Agoria team streamed large high-quality video files back for press usage during night-time hours.
Commenting on the development, Bill Milroy, Chief Technical Officer of ThinKom Solutions said: “The World Solar Challenge was indeed a ‘challenging’ operational environment for the ThinSat 300 antennas, with extreme heat, wind and sandstorms in the Australian outback. That being said, the antennas performed flawlessly, providing ubiquitous connectivity with high data throughput rates and live HD video broadcasts while on the move.”
The Nuon Vattenfall solar car, which was one of the leaders through most of the race, was destroyed in a sudden fire on the last leg. Fortunately, the driver escaped unharmed. Live video was streamed from the accident site thanks to the ThinKom-equipped communication vehicle on the scene. The Agoria racer, only two minutes behind, cruised to victory in Adelaide.
STEP Electronics (HILLS Limited), based in Sydney, was responsible for the installations and technical support for both teams.