After clearing the preliminary round in its first attempt last year, Avishkar Hyperloop, the team from Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M), is all set to participate in the final round of the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod competition 2019 in Los Angeles (California) this year.
The team of 25 students, the only one from Asia which qualified in the final round along with 19 teams, will present its pod design to SpaceX founder Elon Musk.
“There are several deadlines all through the year and the finals begin in July. So in the 2018 competition we managed to clear the filter round and were out of the 47 teams that were chosen from among the 1200-odd competing teams. The preliminary round is when you give an overview for your design and the final round takes care of detailing on how foolproof your pod is," said Pranit Mehta, one of Avishkar Hyperloop’s team members, and a B.Tech student from IIT-M.
Mehta and his team have designed a pod that is similar to an electric vehicle or a “high-end electric vehicle more or less", as he puts it. They came up with the design after initially working on a model that ran on levitation and linear-induction motors (type of contactless motor), finally deciding on going with one that runs on four wheels.
“After working on the initial designs and having done research on them, we realized our pods became heavy, so we changed it to the current one. The pod that is going to the competition has been completed and we will soon ship it to the US so that it reaches the competition in time," Mehta told Mint.
Hyperloop ideally is a concept wherein a pod travels in a vaccum tube and there is magnetic levitation, and no mechanical friction. “On paper a vehicle can travel up to 1,200 kilometers per hour. Elon Musk released a white paper on this some years ago. The competition gives us a one mile long vacuum tube and the whole point is to achieve maximum speed in that distance. The teams come with innovative ideas by attaining top speed with their pods," the IIT-M student explained.
At this year’s competition, the IIT-M student team will be facing some of the best teams across the world, which include those from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Purdue University, Technical University of Munich, University of Washington, Queen’s University, and others.
The project, which cost the team nearly ₹1 crore to complete (to design and build the pod), also has P2P (peer-to-peer) lending firm RupeeCircle as a financial partner. A press release from founder and CEO, Ajit Kumar, said the firm, as a start-up, decided to support the IIT team as it is aware of hurdles that innovators face on their quest to success.