Queen's Hyperloop Design Team reaches California

Despite low budget, team makes it to competition’s final stage

QHDT with their prototype in California.
Credit: 
Supplied by Queen's Hyperloop Design Team
This year, the Queen’s Hyperloop Design Team (QHDT) was one of three Canadian teams to make it to California for the annual Hyperloop Pod competition.
 
While QHDT was one of 21 teams out of 1,500 to make it through the competition’s preliminary rounds to the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, the team failed to pass safety tests that would have allowed their pod to compete on July 22. 
 
Director of design Andy Tsuno, Sci’18, told The Journal the experience was still positive.
 
“Although our team wasn’t able to pass all of the required testing for competition day, there was a lot to take away from the competition and we are thankful for such an amazing opportunity to compete with universities around the world,” he said. 
 
Competing universities included the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Texas in Austin, and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. The winning team hailed from the Technical University of Munich, in Germany. 
 
QHDT arrived in California on July 13 for testing week, the first time the team had progressed far enough in the competition to reach the Golden State. 
 
After failing to make it through the competition’s preliminary rounds last summer, QHDT spent the winter building its first prototype, a feat it hadn’t been able to accomplish before due to lack of funds.  
 
“This year, we were actually able to get enough funding to build the design that we really wanted to build,” Tsuno said. “In previous years, we didn’t have enough money, so the difference for us is whether we can make the pod or not. This year, we feel we can do so much more because we actually built the pod.” 
 
Compared to other teams, QHDT’s budget was considered one of the lowest. According to Tsuno, the team had between $40,000 and $50,000 to work with, while leading teams had around $500,000. 
 
Tsuno said there was a lot to take away from the competition, despite the safety shortfalls and budgetary constrictions.
 
“Not only was it a great learning opportunity for us, but it has also allowed us to reflect on the support we received during the competition, including from our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Queen’s,” Tsuno said. 
 
SpaceX introduced the annual competition in 2015 after Elon Musk introduced the Hyperloop concept in 2013 as a potential alternative to the California High-Speed Rail system.
 
Not yet a reality, the Hyperloop system aims to act as a faster, less expensive form of transportation, which Musk hopes would cover around 1,000 km in an hour.
 
Passenger pods would have a capacity for 20 people, but Musk needs to find one that will transport them safely. His California competition allows teams to run their prototypes through vacuum tubes for safety and speed measurements. 
 
As the competition itself continues to be refined, with the testing track length increasing from 1.25 km to 10 km for next year’s competition, QHDT business captain Fakid Hossaind, Sci’ 21, believes the team will also continue to improve.
 
“We exceeded expectations this year,” Hossaind said. “We are among the top universities in the year because even with this competition, we had to beat hundreds of different universities to get here.”  
 

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