Yesterday, we drove 161 miles from Rochester, New York, to Erie, Pennsylvania, cautiously setting our speeds since the forecast wasn’t very pretty — most of our sources said that there would be rain and thunderstorms. But as the day wore on, it became evident that there would be no storm at least for the time being. We still proceeded with care through the stage, monitoring the charge on our batteries through telemetry in case the evening and morning solar array charging times didn’t give us enough to sustain ourselves on the upcoming 214-mile journey.
The efforts paid off immensely. This morning, we woke up at 5:30AM to a giant thunderstorm, and though the rain had let up by our charging time at 7:00AM, there were clouds all around, and it was moderately raining by the time we started driving at 9:02AM. Despite a few pullovers for various issues, such as to check the weatherproofing that we hacked together the evening before, Impulse ran surprisingly smoothly through the thunderstorm in the morning, only picking up maybe a gallon of water, while a few teams were unfortunately pulled over due to spinouts.
We had hightailed it out of the rain in the early afternoon, when the sun decided to poke through the cloud cover that oppressed us in the morning. We decided to keep a fairly steady pace towards the checkpoint in Mansfield, Ohio, carefully watching speeds for downhill and uphill segments such that we could let both our solar array and our regenerative braking system pick up some of the charge that we had drained in the morning.
Rolling into the checkpoint finish line at Mansfield, we saw the familiar faces of Principia College and University of Minnesota, who had arrived there before us (University of Michigan had already long since left the checkpoint). But the rest of the teams that we had encountered in the past day were nowhere to be seen, except Oregon State, who pulled in at 6:31PM.
We will depart tomorrow in fourth place, though our ultimate placing will depend on how carefully we watch our charge, set our speeds, and determine our strategy for the upcoming days so that we can finish strong.