I am writing right now from a dormitory a short distance from the Pingtung airport. This is the first (and only) night we will not be staying in a hotel. I suppose it is somewhat comforting that dormitories are universal, and this one is about the same quality as the ones back home. Quite a change from a five-star hotel.
Today marked the second day of opening ceremonies, and we spent the majority of the day touring around Kaohsiung and exhibiting the car in public. Typically when we take the car out on roads with normal traffic, the flow slows down some as gawkers become captivated by seeing such an unusual object. With a parade of 11 solar cars amongst an already hectic traffic system, this effect was magnified exponentially. Scooters were weaving in and out of the parade at will, with little to no regard for the fragile vehicles they were coming within an inch of hitting. The police did the best that they could but still had pretty much no control over what was going on. The team had some tense moments but we are glad to be finally through all that with the car in one piece.
In addition to the parade, Borealis III and the 10 other cars were on display at the C. K. S. Cultural Center of Kaohsiung City for a couple hours. We heard speeches from several Kaohsiung dignitaries, saw some local traditional music and dance, and were able to interact with the Taiwanese public. Renewable energy seems to be a popular theme here and many people were interested in what the solar cars had to offer.
We finished the day with an hour long commute to the airport in Pingtung, which will be the site of tomorrow's circuit race. The team is excited to finally be able to race after about a week of preparations. The race begins tomorrow at 10:30 AM and consists of two "heats" in which all the solar cars run laps around a 3 mile track for 90 minutes at a time. The winner is the car that completes the largest distance in the time. Currently our car is sitting at the airport waiting for us to return tomorrow, perform some minor optimizations, and go show everyone what Minnesota solar car is all about.
September 16, 2006