UW students compete in the Hyperloop Pod Competition

Graphic by Alan Li

Since January 2017, students from the University of Waterloo have been working to compete in the Hyperloop Pod Competition sponsored by SpaceX.

The most recent competition was in August 2017, where Universities competed to create the fastest Hyperloop Pod.

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, introduced the Hyperloop concept back in 2013 and, since, companies have worked to make this idea come to life.

“The technology really is already here, it’s just that it’s hard to build 500 miles of track and [it] takes a lot of money and time,” Clive Chan, technical director of the Waterloop team and software engineering student at the University of Waterloo said.

Hyperloop One is one of the companies working to create this futuristic transit system.

Hyperloop One was announced as one of the winning proposal routes for the Hyperloop system and is a route from Toronto to Montreal. Toronto to Montreal is the only route that won of the proposed Canadian routes.

The Hyperloop pod is able to exceed the speed of any train we use today. The pod travels through a vacuum tube that contains no air and uses magnetic levitation to lift the pod off the track and guide the pod to its destination.

Waterloop will be redesigning their pod again and is in the process of exploring different proposal methods. The team works with students from both Laurier and the University of Waterloo, from every program, and is looking for more members to expand for the next competition.

The Hyperloop One website states that the pod will travel up to 700 miles per hour and is safe, energy efficient and reliable.

In Waterloo, the Waterloop team has already created two small-scale model pods for the SpaceX Hyperloop pod competition.

The first pod was built in four months for the first competition in January, and the second took seven months for the competition in August.

The most current pod created by Waterloop is 11-feet-long, about half the scale of what a full-size scale pod would be.

“The whole point of the competition is to demonstrate technology and to develop interesting ideas,” Chan said.

All those who competed spent a week-and-a-half in California with SpaceX where they received feedback and competed with the other Universities. The most recent competition was judged based on speed and allowed four of the Universities participating to compete on the SpaceX Hyperloop Test Track, which is a mile long.

The winning team was WARR Hyperloop from the Technical University of Munich, with a pod that reached 323 kilometers per hour.

“The real benefit is that we are getting real engineering experience,” Chan said.

“SpaceX advisors would be walking around, offering suggestions and critiques of our designs and helping to improve the safety and efficiency of the designs.”

The Waterloop team has begun preparing for the next competition which will take place in the Summer of 2018.

Waterloop will be redesigning their pod again and is in the process of exploring different proposal methods. The team works with students from both Laurier and the University of Waterloo, from every program, and is looking for more members to expand for the next competition.

“It was a huge learning experience and it teaches us how to be an engineer,” Chan said.

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