Final report for our trip to Japan

So that’s it, we’re back in the village of munich now. Apart from a damaged suitcase (which btw AirFrance was incredibly professional about, replacement is already on its way), we had a very good flight. We didn’t even have any problems with the batteries during the security checks on the way back.

After all, the resume of our trip to Japan is extremely positive.
Regarding the competiton, winning the speed award was all we ever hoped for. Having actually won it feels really rewarding for all the hard work we put in during the last months.
We experienced, that a working brake is essential  for the Climber at all times. The easily changeable wooden crash element was our savior, without it we would not have been able to continue the competiton after the first impact. The CFRP-structure of our Climber proved to resist even bigger impacts than what we designed it for – no damage on the core of the Climber. Only the beanie has to be replaced now due to a small crack.

During the competiton we wittnessed a very professional and thought through event.
Having 16 teams sharing the rope and tether for two days takes very good organisation. We experienced no conflicts between the teams. On top of that it was a very friendly and fair atmosphere.

We also learned a few things for our own SpaceElevator Challenge (EUSPEC) that takes place in September 2018:

  • having the rope and the tether hanging from the balloon at all times is quite useful. It saves a lot of time, if you don’t have to descend the balloon in order to change from rope to tether.
  • having the right bumpers at the lower and upper end of the rope is very important. For the majority of runs a styrofoam bumper was used. When our own Climber came down without braking there were just two empty plastic containers at the bottom. We believe that the normal styrofoam bumper would have caused more damage on the Climber. We will make sure that there will be bumpers made out of plastic canisters at EUSPEC 2018.
  • during EUSPEC 2016 there were preassigned timeslots for every team. At SPEC 2017 this wasn’t the case. When ready to drive, you just told the HQ and then you got the next available time slot. This system is quite useful, because this way, no time is wasted if a team can’t get their Climber to work.

After the competiton we stayed in Tokyo for another week trying to see as much of it as possible.
A small list of what we visited in Tokyo:
Ueno Zoo, Akihabara, Asakusa, Tokyo Skytree, Imperial Palast Garden, Tokyo Tower, Odaiba Statue of Liberty, Toyota Megaweb, Metropolitan Government Building and so much more…

Here you can find some impressions of our second week:

While visiting Tokyo we noticed some things that are very diffenrent in Germany. A short extract of our cultural impressions:

  • something that was annoying when walking through the streets, was all the noice in the city. For example on many public places there were huge screens playing ads at high volume. Or: When the doors in the train are about to close, a short song starts to play. There are different melodies for every station 😮
  • if you go to a small supermarket like 7eleven or Lawson, which you can find every 200 m, you always get your purchases in a plastic bag – even if it’s just a single product. Our pockets were filled with plastic wrapping all the time. You would assume, that given this huge amount of rubbish, there are a lot of trashcans in the city. But no, if you’re lucky you could find one or two trashcans a day when walking around. Regardless the streets were clean as duck.
  • you will never walk through Japan thirsty. Vending machines with cold and hot drinks can literally be found at every corner.
  • vending machines are exremely fast, just put all your bills into the machine as a stack and about 1 second later you get your ticket and the change. It honestly makes vending machines in Germany look like ancient things (or do we just have more time?).
  • buildings are very high. That’s just a fact. Regardless if the plot of land has 1 acre or just 30 m² you just make the building 6 floors minimum. After all there is always much more space in the vertical axis.
  • if only the german trains were on time as often as the japanese ones.
  • MVG, please implement Suica Cards. They are so fast and useful.

We will stop with the list here, many things just have to be experienced by yourself. Tokyo is worth a visit 100%.

Now, after the trip we want to thank a few people.
A huge thank you to Jota Shimazaki who was our contact in Japan and helped a huge deal during the registration of our team.
Another thank you to Jota, Ohno and the rest of the SPEC 2017 crew who all supported us during the competion. We felt very welcome and will hopefully return soon.
Also we want to thank our friends at Autoliv who tried to adapt their radar sensors for our causes. Sadly the data was not as easy to interprete as we hoped which resulted in us using our old system and keeping a big saftey distance on the upper end. Nevertheless we will continue to develop the radar distance measurement.

At last but definitively not at least (quite the opposite) we want to thank our sponsor Vestner.
Without the huge financial support (covering the flights to Japan and all the costs during our stay in Mito) it wouldn’t have been possible for us to take part in the competition.
It was a very memorable experience for us to paticipate in the SPEC 17 and to see Japan. So thank you again, especially Simon Vestner and all other Vestner staff who helped organising our flights.

Now we have to get used to the german weather again. We were really lucky having 11/14 sunny days in Japan. This blog will probably be updated during our next trip 😉

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