It weighs 725 kilograms less than its predecessor and relies on electric propulsion instead of air levitation, which means the latest pod design by a group of Newfoundland students will be lighter and faster than ever when it’s tested next month at Elon Musk’s prestigious SpaceX hyperloop competition.
Paradigm Hyperloop is comprised of full-time university students from Memorial University, the College of the North Atlantic in Newfoundland and Boston’s Northeastern University, who are still in the running to claim the top prize at this year’s 2019 Hyperloop Pod Competition in Hawthorne, Calif. on July 21.
It will be the fourth SpaceX competition to challenge students to create innovative, functional pods to be used in a proposed hyperloop transportation system that would see passengers travel at high speeds in pods within sealed tubes.
Paradigm Hyperloop will join 20 others from across the U.S. and Canada in the competition where they will test their original pod designs on a 1.6-kilometre track at the SpaceX headquarters. The pods must pass safety and technical checks and be able to stop 30 metres before the end of the track without crashing.
Nathan Power, the project lead for the team, said they have redesigned their pod from the “ground up” after they failed to qualify for last year’s competition following an impressive second-place finish the year before.
“We’re very excited to unveil this pod and be competing in less than a month,” he told CTV’s Your Morning on Tuesday.
Some of the major changes to their design include a shift from air-based levitation to an onboard battery-powered electric motor, which allows the pod to be lighter and faster. In fact, the new pod weighs a sixth of the old model and can reach a top speed of 450 km/h, whereas the former topped out at 101 km/h.
Power said he’s excited to be involved in the development of emerging hyperloop technology, although he did acknowledge there is still “a lot of work to do” before it can be applied in real life.
“It’s definitely getting there, but there’s still a lot of work to do in terms of safety regulations,” he explained. “We have to build the infrastructure and we have to make sure that it’s safe for people to ride on on a daily basis.”
The university student said he thinks hyperloop transportation will be useful for distances that are too long to drive, but too short for a plane ride, such as between states in the U.S.
“It’s convenient to hop on, but it’s high-speed like a plane would be so in that way you could live in one city, but you could work in another conveniently,” he said.
For example, the estimated travel time from Montreal to Toronto using hyperloop technology would be approximately 45 minutes, according to Power.
Power said his team is hoping to push the concept as far as they possibly can in adherence to the spirt of the competition itself.
“We have all these student teams working very, very hard. They try out different technologies and year-to-year they keep progressing and pushing the grounds of the hyperloop technology,” he said.