We are a team of 40 physics, mathematics, electrical-, mechanical- and civil engineering students at the ETH Zurich that is complemented by design and business students from Switzerland. Our objective is to design and build a prototype for this new kind of ground transportation: the Hyperloop.
SpaceX, a private space company based in Hawthorne, California, is currently running a competition for universities around the world to design, build and race pod prototypes of the Hyperloop. The company has already built a 1.25km-long test track for this purpose. The competition is divided into three stages: two design stages, a preliminary draft design submitted in November 2016 and a detailed build-ready design to be submitted in February 2017. Our objective is simple: build the fastest pod that has to successfully accelerate and decelerate within the limits of the test track in summer 2017.
Our pod features propulsion by compressed air that exits the vehicle at low temperatures and provides a rocket-like acceleration upon expansion at the nozzle. The permanent magnets for levitation and the air tanks together with their control systems reside in the vehicle's 'legs' to lower the centre of gravity but also to create a lot of space for our test dummy to sit comfortably, and enjoy the ride. The competition's winning criteria is to reach maximum speed within the scaled test tube without damage to the track, the pod and its transported dummy. Therefore we aim to innovatively push the performance limits within these physical boundaries both as safely and reliably as possibly testable, all while studying the feasibility and sustainability of our systems for long-range and real operational applications.