On the fast track

Dakar Rally: Tracking solution by Agheera works even in the remotest areas Roughly 9,000 kilometres, 347 race cars, from sea level to altitudes of over 4,000 meters – that was the Dakar Rally 2016, which for security reasons was once again held in South America. And that makes it easy to lose your bearings as a fan. So it’s good if you can fall back on blogs with real-time tracking of the rally, such as the one of Ellen Lohr. The former top DTM driver, who is now mainly involved in truck racing, drove the car of the Mercedes press team along the so-called service track, which at times was also extremely difficult and – just like the rally itself – went through areas where mobile phone networks and Internet access are rather hit and miss. But nevertheless, rally enthusiasts were able to take part in the action on her website every day. What was particularly important: to get an accurate overview of the current location. Because only then can fans actually understand the geographical challenges the teams face. Easier said than done, as a GPS transmitter alone is not enough. Instead, a number of different elements have to fit together perfectly – from hardware and mobile telephone connection to roaming, the IT systems of the manufacturers and the integration into the own portal. All components are generally heterogeneous, as there is no such thing as a uniform standard in the world of real-time tracking, no matter whether it concerns the location information of rally vehicles or of important consignments.

Small but powerful

Ellen Lohr (back row, middle) and the Mercedes public relations crew at the Rallye Dakar 2016 [Photo: Ellen Lohr]
Ellen Lohr (back row, middle) and the Mercedes public relations crew at the Rallye Dakar 2016 [Photo: Ellen Lohr]

The solution for this jumble of different systems is provided by the company Agheera, based in Troisdorf, Germany, a subsidiary of Deutsche Post DHL. The company implements telematics solutions regardless of the diversity of the used components. All existing information is consolidated and made available for retrieval on a specially programmed platform. In addition, Agheera also provides its own hardware. In the case of the Dakar Rally, the device had the size of a mere matchbox, but mastered all challenges with ease, despite the fact that the conditions were far from ideal. “We partially had to deal with very harsh outside conditions. Monsoon-like rains, extreme heat and high altitudes made life difficult for us. But despite all the odds, the tracking system worked reliably the whole time without failure”, explains Ellen Lohr.
And Christoph Keisers, the Managing Director of Agheera, is also particularly proud: “The Dakar Rally is no walk in the park – neither for man nor machine. We were indeed convinced that we had the right solution, but having actual proof is even nicer”. Incidentally, the cooperation with Ellen Lohr actually began with an encounter at the German Telematikpreis award in November 2015, which Agheera won with an application example for keeping track of 20,000 swap body systems of Deutsche Post. “We got talking to Ellen Lohr during the event and developed the idea of adding real-time location information to her blog. The connection to our system was completed in next to no time”, explains Keisers.

Uniform portal

All tracking data from the Agheera software portal can be processed with virtually any system. “There are an incredible amount of different tracking devices on the market, which all use their own data formats”, says Agheera boss Keisers. “On our platform we can integrate almost all of these devices, so that ultimately customers require only one interface in order to be kept up to date – ours.“

Author: Kai Ortmann

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