Home Tech CEO Weekends: iLanga II & RS Components are counting down days to Sasol Solar Challenge

CEO Weekends: iLanga II & RS Components are counting down days to Sasol Solar Challenge

by Caroline Vutagwa
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iLanga II, the solar powered prototype vehicle developed by the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) solar team, is counting down to set-off on 27 September 2014, competing for a first place in the 2014 Sasol Solar Challenge.

The 2014 Sasol Solar Challenge is a single stage solar car racing event taking place between 27 September and the 4th of October 2014. The primary objective of the event is to promote science and technology in renewable energy and clean mobility.

In collaboration with Resolution Circle, iLanga II is part of an innovative alternative energy program to promote the development of South Africa’s green economy, and was built by a team of Masters, Honours and Undergraduate students from the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE) at UJ.

RS Components, global distribution partner of the Raspberry Pi single-board computer, provided R1million worth of products as a sponsorship towards building iLanga II. The electronic hardware and components sponsored are engineered towards enhancing the car’s competitive edge in performance.

Brian Andrew, General Manager for RS Components says, “The UJ team stands a fair chance of winning the Olympia class of the race this year, because of light weight and the improvements in aerodynamics of iLanga II. Our hope is the team finishes in the top three.”

The sponsorship included RS Components’ latest 3D printing range to allow items to be custom-designed and printed on-site.  It would not have been possible to complete the car otherwise.

The first prototype iLanga 1.1 was conceptualised in 2011 and participated in her first solar race during the 2012 Sasol Solar Challenge. Since then, this project has expanded through knowledge and capacity building, developing into the latest version, iLanga II, meaning The Sun in IsiZulu.

FEBE executive dean, Prof Saurabh Sinha, noted in a previous release that the Faculty is confident the new design coupled with innovative engineering, will outdrive international and provincial competitors in the endurance challenge.

In its commitment to develop future fit students, UJ equips them with both academic and practical skills to get them industry ready. The project is managed by students as a ‘real-world’ project, from start to finish, including budgets and sponsorships.

Their fundraising drives – together with academic and administrative support partners from Resolution Circle have resulted in 30 industry partners, including RS Components, Siemens, Eskom, Sasol and Technology Innovation Agency, putting their weight behind the team’s green technology drive.

RS Components’ Andrew says “the 2014 Sasol Solar Challenge is not just a race; the 2000km long endurance challenge focuses on the longest distance covered, time, maximum speed and solar energy generated”.

The main driver chosen at this stage is JP de Kock, and the team is in the process of recruiting and training two other drivers for the 8 day long race, starting in Pretoria continuing through Kroonstad, Bloemfontein, Colesberg, Graaffreinet, Port Elizabeth, Knysna, Swellendam and ending in Cape Town.

The UJ team is more than ready to take on international and local competitors, and will continue to focus on race strategy, competitive edge and reviewing market research.

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