Due to the unforeseen events of 2020, Swissloop decided to set different priorities for ist prototype design. From building a top-of-the-line race-winning pod, the goal shifted to research and optimization of Swissloop’s core competence: the design of Linear Induction Motors (LIMs) and all power electronics associated with them. After gaining much insight from the successful design from the previous year, the findings and improvements were implemented in order to arrive at an entirely new architecture. The latest pod features a new double-sided LIM with six coils per side. In order to optimize power transmission from the LIM to the rail, the pod’s inverter was conceptualized and built as a decentralized unit, consisting of independent modules driving each coil pair individually. This scalable inverter enables the separate control of current flow through each coil pair, theoretically allowing for dynamic pole-pair transitions during operation. On the mechanical side, Swissloop decided to switch from a hydraulic to a pneumatic braking system, improving security and lowering the weight of the entire system. Also, for the first time the shell – the pod’s aerodynamic hull – has been manufactured entirely in-house out of fiberglass reinforced plastic.
Swissloop’s 2020 pod prototype is named after Simona de Silvestro, Swiss Formula-E race car and Porsche factory driver. “Simona” is 2.05 m (1.5 m without shell) long, 0.8 m (0.6 m) wide, weighs 111 kg and is made from over 3600 individual components. As development started with the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod competition in mind, many components were designed such that they could withstand the high demands of a race. Nevertheless, many of the initial concepts were implemented in the final pod. For instance the competition vehicle would have featured two sets of identical braking systems, in order to provide similar deceleration to a much heavier pod. “Simona” features only one set, which reduces the pod’s weight while still providing all necessary insights to validate the concept. Similarly, due to the modular nature of the inverter and the LIM, the current variants of these components are simply scaled down versions of their competition counterparts. Finally, the integration of all systems into the prototype were reviewed, resulting in a compact and efficient pod prototype, ready to launch on the track in record time.