Elon Musk presented the Hyperloop idea in 2012. It involves a vacuum train which would transport people and goods in pods at high speeds. Delft Hyperloop has worked on a pod, which went ever faster, for four years. Last summer the team even broke its own speed record, racing on the Voestaline Railpro test track in Hilversum at 360 kilometres an hour. This year the team is changing tack and has a new objective: to lay the foundations for the real Hyperloop. This means that being part of Elon Musk’s SpaceX Hyperloop Pod is being deferred. So what is Delft Hyperloop planning to do? Team Captain Pieter Becking explains.
What has been done recently?
“In the face of the coronavirus outbreak and the cancelled SpaceX competition, last year’s team decided to postpone recruiting new members. Instead, a small team got together to revise the strategy. It soon transpired that the SpaceX competition in its current form did not match the objectives of Delft Hyperloop. The competition was all about speed while we think that other aspects are important too. We really do want to be part of the Hyperloop though so we are organising a new event, the European Hyperloop Week, with student teams from Valencia, Edinburgh and Zurich.”
Why a European Hyperloop Week?
“To show the world how far the Hyperloop industry is and to bring together student teams, companies and other interested parties to share knowledge. There will be a student team competition that week in which we will compete as well. The emphasis of this competition is on making a scalable Hyperloop.”
What is a scalable Hyperloop?
“Anyone working on a Hyperloop keeps the usability of the idea in mind. This entails aspects such as covering distances of more than 400 kilometres and reaching speeds of 1,000 kilometres an hour. Apart from that, other criteria such as energy efficiency, safety and affordability make the Hyperloop scalable. Everyone is working one step at a time towards the ultimate system which will be an environmentally friendly transport system.”
‘We are looking for students who want work, part-time or full-time, to the end of the academic year’
What will change to the design?
“One of our most important goals this year is to be the first Hyperloop student team to design a linear synchronous motor (propulsion based on exchange magnetic field, eds.) that will propel our pod forward. Research shows that this propulsion system is the most suitable for Hyperloop applications. The highest efficiency and speed will be attained through magnets in the pod and a network of electromagnets in the track.”
What do you need to make the project successful?
“We are now putting our efforts into finding students to strengthen our team. We placed a lot of vacancies on our website on 26 October. We are looking for students who want to work, part-time or full-time, for Delft Hyperloop until the end of this academic year. The vacancies are in all sorts of fields, ranging from research & development to public relations.”
Is the academic year a good time to recruit new members?
“It is a challenge, but we are confident that we will be able to create a complete team and certainly now that we are working on a different type of project that has an important goal. We are laying the foundations for the future and this will help us win the competition. Our recruitment drive so far is promising. On the first day that the vacancies were put online we received one serious application and much interest.”
Maybe not a welcome question, but what if the competition in July 2021 doesn’t go ahead?
“We are keeping this in mind and are looking into how we can, at the very least, present our project to a large audience. Both our team and the European Hyperloop Week competition are prepared for not being able to travel to Valencia. The most important thing this year is to lay strong foundations for the years to come.”