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Central University of Technology: Seilatsatsi

TEAM | Central University of Technology: Seilatsatsi

CAR NAME | Pere ea letstatsi

COUNTRY | South Africa

CLASS | Challenger


Team Seilatsatsi from the Central University of Technology (CUT) is venturing into completely new territory with their entry into this year’s Sasol Solar Challenge.

The South African team of 20 mechanical and electrical engineers have always wanted to build a solar challenger car but have been limited by finances. Now, with support from CUT, the Technology Innovation Agency and the Advanced Energy Foundation, their solar challenge dreams are being realised and they’re working hard to create a car that is as unique as it is competitive.

In a great show of collaboration between the arts and the sciences, the team of engineers has worked with the university’s art and graphic design students to develop branding with an African flavour. Both the car and team names are from local Sesotho mythology.

Seilatsatsi, is based on the story of a chief’s beautiful daughter of the same name. The young girl, who had been warned never to appear in the sun, left her hut in daylight when she fell in love with a young chief from another village.

She immediately turned into a termite hill. But a healer helped reverse the spell, and when she was restored in full sunlight, she was more beautiful than ever before, and brought prosperity to everyone she knew.

The car’s name, Pere ea letsatsi, means ‘horse from the sun’.

Pere ea letsatsi’s design is being kept a tight secret, and the team have promised that it will be completely different from the catamaran shape common to the challenger class. The design was done entirely by CUT students, and the motors and carbon fibre build have been commissioned from outside. The solar array is being built by Gochermann Solar Technology, who have provided several teams with panels in the past.

Extensive testing of the car’s aerodynamics was done with a 3D-printed model before the actual manufacturing started.

Once the car has been built, the team will take it to schools in the Bloemfontein area to share the excitement around technology and engineering.