Hyperloop Pod Competition Details
Figure 1: SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition
Elon Musk’s futuristic transportation concept, Hyperloop, is finally going to enter its prototyping stage and we are more than excited for this revolutionary event of the Hyperloop Pod Competition. Starting from today, 30 engineering teams are going to put their heart and soul in testing their respective pod vehicles propelled inside a vacuum chamber.
Out of these participating teams, there are two non-university teams including a group from Texas High School and a group of individuals organized through Reddit.com. The rest of the teams are affiliated with universities like USC, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, and UC Santa Barbara. Besides, there are other teams hailing from places like Colorado, Virginia, Japan, New York, Maryland, Canada, India, Spain, Oklahoma, and the Netherlands.
The Pod Competition starts from today and will continue till 29th January 2017, whereby teams will demonstrate their respective human-scale pods on the test track built by SpaceX at Hawthorne, California headquarters. This is the second judging phase of the competition; the first one was a design competition that took place in January 2016.
Vehicle Pod Designs Competing for the Prototype Stage
The pod competition beginning from today is going to witness 30 teams whose pod designs were approved in the Pod Design Weekend held in January 2016. After reviewing these pod designs, three variations of the exterior design were found that are currently being worked upon. First one is the magnetic levitation used by MIT, while the second one was an air bearing design that relies on Elon Musk’s idea to create a bed of air for the pod to glide on. The third design by Hyperlynx team (University of Colorado) made use of high-speed wheels for speed under 100 mph along with air bearings for a higher speed.
Enlisted below are some of the teams along with their respective pod designs that will be taking part in the prototype stage.
1. “Best Overall Design Award” bagged by MIT
Figure 2: MIT Hyperloop
2. “Pod Innovation Award” received by Delft Hyperloop
Figure 3: Delft Hyperloop Pod Design
3. “Pod Technical Excellence Award” presented to three teams namely-:
Figure 4: Badgerloop Pod Design
b) HyperXite at UC Irvine
Figure 5: HyperXite Pod Design
c) Hyperloop at Virginia Tech
Figure 6: Hyperloop at Virginia Tech Pod Design
Besides, nine “subsystem awards” and three “design only” awards were also given away to some other teams.
For the upcoming Pod Competition, all the teams are pursuing a different design for the interior portion of the pod. Some of them are focusing on cargo; others are targeting to transport passengers, while a few of them are trying to make adjustments for both cargo and passengers.
What is Hyperloop?
Hyperloop is the brainchild of Elon Musk, who came up with the idea after being disappointed with the approval of Californian “high speed” rail project. According to him, it was “one of the most expensive” and “one of the slowest” transport systems in the world. He wished to introduce an innovative means of transport which would be fast, convenient, safe, non-disruptive, and earthquake resistant and at the same time available to the masses at an affordable cost.
Figure 7: Hyperloop Concept Design Sketch
The idea was to build a 300-mile long pneumatic tube (over or under the ground) connecting Los Angeles to San Francisco and carrying passengers through human-sized capsules or pods accelerated by magnetic fields. The air pressure inside the tube would be reduced to 0.001 atmospheres implying less air resistance. This would allow the capsules to travel at high subsonic speeds of 760 mph i.e. 1220 kmph thereby helping the passengers cover the distance between Los Angeles and San Francisco in just 30 minutes.
Figure 8: Hyperloop Speed Comparison with other modes of transport
For more details, read on: Hyperloop-Fast, Cheap, Clean
Conception of the Competition
In 2013, Elon Musk released the design document of Hyperloop involving substantial assistance from the Engineers at Tesla Motors and SpaceX. After a few discussions, it was concluded that building a demonstration project would help in improving the cost estimation and then Musk decided that he would personally get involved in the project. Later, in 2015, instead of commercialising the idea, SpaceX announced to sponsor an open competition for university students and engineering teams to contribute to the Hyperloop project.
In order to conduct the prototype stage, SpaceX designed and built a prototype of the track on which each of these pods would be tested.
Hyperloop Test Track
Figure 9: Hyperloop Test Track
The test track-Hypertube- is a straight one-mile run built on Jack Northrop venue between Crenshaw Blvd. and Prairie Ave. It was designed in 2015 while the construction was finished in October 2016. Its 6-foot diameter steel tube includes a non-magnetic sub-track. It is claimed to achieve 99.8 % vacuum.
Hyperloop Pod Competition- II
After receiving a tremendous response from students and engineers all over the world, it was announced that the competition would be extended to its second installment. The Hyperloop Pod Competition-II is likely to be conducted in Summer 2017. However, this time, the focus would be laid solely on the speed of the pods. Moreover, this one would be limited to the interested students as well as the students who have already built and tested their respective pods, without involving the participation of any company.
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