Great blog post from physics students Enrique Cervero and Hamish Geddes – members of the Edinburgh University Hyperloop Team (HypED).
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The team working on the pod at the Innspace in Sanderson Building
“We are just back from our trip to California for the SpaceX Hyperloop competition, it’s been an amazing experience. We would once again like to thank the School of Physics for the support they gave us for our trip.
The Edinburgh University Hyperloop Team (HypED) has been working for over ten months to design and build an Hyperloop prototype, a method of levitating transportation propelled along a vacuum tube. Much of our summer was spent at the mechanical lab in Kings Building drawing sketches, tightening bolts and drilling holes with the ultimate purpose of bringing our Hyperloop Pod, Poddy McPodface, to life.
All this work was to culminate at the end of August in Los Angeles, where HypED was invited to by SpaceX to participate in the finals of one of the most prestigious engineering competitions in the world: The Hyperloop Pod Competition II. A total of 25 teams from all over the world were invited to unveil and race their prototypes at the space company’s headquarters, HypED being the only British team and one of four European teams.
The team arrived to LA about a week before the competition. We brought our prototype to a local workshop in Los Angeles, Urban Workshop, where we spent most of the pre-competition days giving the final touches to our design.
The team working on the hydraulics at the workshop in LA
Our main worry before the competition was that we would not finish our pod in time, that there would be something, some flaw or eventuality, that we had not planned for and that would ultimately prevent us from competing at SpaceX. We all worked hard either way, trying to get everything done perfectly to meet SpaceX’s requirements.
When the pod was done, we drove it to SpaceX in Hawthorne, LA, where it was to be tested for safety, systems and functionality before the competition. Out of the 25 teams that got invited to the competition, only 3 would be allowed to test their pod and race it in the vacuum tube. HypED’s prototype was unfortunately not one of the 3 chosen by SpaceX. However, our team was given clearance to test our pod at a speed of 40m/s (144km/h) in the vacuum track, which would have made it one of the fastest Hyperloop Pods ever tested.
Over the entire year and competition, I have learned that real world applications of engineering are never simple and require a level head and persistence to complete: there must be a lot of thought put into a design, many drafts, scraps and failures need to be done before arriving at the finalised product.
I have also acquired a lot of technical experience, how to use industrial machinery, solve real world mechanical problems and work as a team to bring our ideas to life.
The outcome of the competition was also an imperative learning experience for the team which we will definitely use to our advantage in next year’s competition. We will take from our design flaws and mistakes and remove them in our next design, use the advice and knowledge given to us by Tesla and SpaceX engineers, and improve on our design’s advantages.
The team with our completed pod next to SpaceX’s vacuum Hyperloop test track