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SolarBuggy with chainflex cables

25 July 2018

Since the beginning of 2016, 16 students from the University of Bochum in Germany have been developing and constructing a solar-powered off-road vehicle, which makes use of cables from igus.

The team wants its SolarBuggy, called Froggee, to be completely self-sufficient while ensuring that it can cope with the toughest conditions without problems. The ultimate goal of the project is to break the new record set recently by an Australian team for the fastest crossing of the Simpson Desert with a solar-powered land vehicle. The team has less than 4 days, 21 hours and 23 minutes to cover a distance of 360 kilometres along the ‘French line’ from Purni Bore to Birdsville. Attached to the roof of the SolarBuggy are 2.5 square metres of solar cells.

Against this background, all components in the SolarBuggy have to cope with the tough demands of crossing the Simpson Desert. This is especially true for the installed chainflex cables. They are used to connect the motor controllers to the electric motors, for driving the vehicle and for the internal wiring of the contactors. The combination of low weight and diameter as well as maximum mechanical durability is the strength of these cables.

The servo cables have a special conductor design that ensures a high current carrying capacity and withstands the mechanical loads due to motion and vibration, so that there are no interruptions to the power supply. “The cables, which are shielded against Electromagnetic and Radio frequency interference (EMI/RFI), provide the DC and AC voltage,” explains Kay Bollerhof of the SolarBuggy team. “As they are very tough, they easily handle the thermal and mechanical stresses expected in Australia.”

The cables were designed originally for use in energy chains. Tested under real conditions in the in-house igus laboratory, they ensure a maximum service life and guaranteed operational reliability. For the SolarBuggy, the team selected the CF270.UL.350.01.D servo cable, which has a bending radius of 7.5xd. Featuring a PUR outer jacket, the cable is oil-resistant, halogen- and silicone-free, and flame-retardant.

This project is supported by igus under its initiative, the Young Engineers Support programme, providing free product samples and technical advice.