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) had ventured into completely new territory with their entry into the 2018 Sasol Solar Challenge.

The South African team of 20 mechanical and electrical engineers had always wanted to build a solar challenger car but were limited by finances. In 2018, with support from CUT, the Technology Innovation Agency and the Advanced Energy Foundation, their solar challenge dreams were realised, and they worked hard to create a car that was as unique as it was competitive.

In a great show of collaboration between the arts and the sciences, the team of engineers worked with the university’s art and graphic design students to develop branding with an African flavour. Both the car and team names were 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 was kept a tight secret, and the team promised that it would be completely different from the catamaran shape common to the challenger class. The design was completed entirely by CUT students, and the motors and carbon fibre build were commissioned externally. The solar array was built by Gochermann Solar Technology, who 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 was completed, the team took it to schools in the Bloemfontein area and shared the excitement around technology and engineering.

The Central University of Technology demonstrated the spirit of never giving up, working tirelessly throughout all eight days to troubleshoot challenges with their car. The Bloemfontein-based CUT clocked a full 110.3 km.