27 Sep Australia Week 3: Outback Testing
G’day from the Outback! Having ensured Arctan was road-ready, prepared our convoy vehicles, and bid farewell to the amazing folks at Solitaire Automotive Group, we left the streets of Adelaide last Wednesday to begin our Outback testing.
We trailered Arctan to Glendambo, where our testing route began. On Thursday morning the race crew conducted mock pit-stops, which tested our coordination and ability to think on our feet. We’ll be refining our wheel-changing dance in the weeks leading up to the race start, so that pit stops take up minimal time in actual race scenarios.
Thursday afternoon saw us take to the road with Arctan. The team spent the rest of the day performing controlled speed runs and debugging electrical gremlins along a 20km section of the Stuart Highway. We also ran into our colleagues from the University of Michigan testing their solar car, Aurum, along the same stretch of road. Between our respective convoys, I’m sure we gave the area its fair share of excitement! After the day’s testing, the two teams met up for a friendly show-and-tell.
On Friday we left our Glendambo campsite and drove to Coober Pedy, with some more controlled speed runs along the way. Arctan managed the drive admirably, and our drivers got valuable experience navigating road trains and crosswinds. After a good night’s rest, we spent Saturday morning performing mechanical and electrical checks to evaluate how our car had fared over its first two days of Outback driving. After swapping back to our main race motors, we resumed driving in the afternoon, and performed another set of controlled speed runs in the vicinity of Coober Pedy.
After three days of rigorous testing, the team took Sunday off to see the sights in Coober Pedy and regroup before our first mock race in the Outback. We visited one of the town’s famous opal mines, petted kangaroos, and enjoyed a sumptuous dinner at a fabulous underground motel. The electrical team also got a chance to debug some motor controller issues.
Over the next three days, we will be conducting a mock race between Glendambo and the South Australia/Northern Territory border. We’re eager to see how we fare as a race crew, and how our strategy models hold up in racing conditions! Stay tuned for our next update from Down Under.