Queen’s students join Hyperloop Pod Competition

Prototype will reach speed of 275 kilometres per hour

Queen’s Hyperloop Design Team.
Queen’s Hyperloop Design Team.
Credit: 
Supplied by Sarah Parker

The future of transportation isn’t teleportation, but Hyperloop is the next best thing.

The Queen’s Hyperloop Design Team has been working since 2015 to help build Elon Musk’s proposed high-speed Hyperloop transportation system. The team are competing to make a passenger pod for the project.

Introduced by Musk in 2013 in response to issues with the California High-Speed Rail System, Hyperloop aims to create a faster and less expensive alternative to train travel. Reaching speeds of more than 700 kilometres per hour, the pods are supposed to shoot through depressurized tubes propelled by magnetic structures.

Last December, Musk announced plans for the first track, stretching from Los Angeles to San Francisco and reducing a six-hour car journey to a mere 35 minutes.

However, Musk needs safe travelling pods before Hyperloop can be used. As CEO of SpaceX in California, Musk hosts the annual competition for teams from all around the world to present and test their own pod prototypes. 

Made up of 62 volunteers, the Queen’s Hyperloop Design Team is one of the competitors. 

Using $27,000 in funding, they will begin building a prototype this winter before revealing a final product this coming spring.

With a projected top speed of 275 kilometres per hour, the team plans to enter their prototype into the competition next summer. 

While the competition tests for speed and examines designs for safety, it doesn’t test for human transport to avoid liability issues.

Sarah Parker, Sci ’19 and Director of Communications for the project, said Hyperloop is ideal in a world like today where “time is everything.” 

Parker joined the team because she’d “never heard anything like it before.”

Parker also explained Hyperloop pods have the potential to be more environmentally sustainable than cars and other forms of transportation, because they can utilize solar panel energy as opposed to fossil fuels. 

Andy Tsuno, Sci ’21 and the project’s Director of Design,  agreed there was nothing like Hyperloop before. 

According to Tsuno, Hyperloop would be an ideal form of transportation, not only because of increased speed, but also because it will be much cheaper than high speed rail. 

Based on Musk’s original proposal, tickets from L.A. to San Francisco would be around $20. 

Tsuno wanted to be involved in the development of Hyperloop because he believes it’s at the forefront of technology. Despite taking a year off to do an internship, Tsuno has been with the team since 2015.

Back then, he said the team was made up of only a few students and had limited funding. But because the technology has been picking up speed and private companies have been developing their own pods, the team garnered more attention and financial support.

Tsuno believes this added funding will qualify them as serious competitors next summer, and if they make it to the final round, the team will travel to the SpaceX offices in California.

However, the team is only building their pod as a half-scale prototype and increased funding would allow them to build a full-scale product.

While increased funding would allow the team to build a full-scale product, this is the first year they’ve received enough funding to create a half-scale prototype, which will be finished by next July.

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