As the timeline closes in for the upcoming SpaceX hosted Hyperloop Competition, Team Waterloop has undertaken a new mission to increase its scope beyond the competition. This assignment involves building its very own open-air replica of the SpaceX Hyperloop — a test track by Waterloop in Canada. Through our project, the team aims to encourage both system and subsystem technological innovations by Canadian researchers and students, inclusive of all adjacent fields related to Hyperloop.
Our Team’s Motivation: a Canadian-Centred Hyperloop Initiative
Being the team representing the University of Waterloo, a university renowned for its innovation, our very own subteam, the Infrastructure Team, has made this proposal. This team is comprised of talented students with the expertise gained through work with the MTO, Ontario High Speed Rail, City of Waterloo Light Rail project, construction companies and other transportation-related fields along with the guidance and support from our University’s own Professors. Together, they have developed plans to make this idea into a reality. To make this a success, rather than functioning alone, the team is looking to collaborate with other Canadian Hyperloop teams to increase networking and participation in future competitions.
Our Motto: Proactive Planning and Systematic Execution
For the initial phase, the team worked with the Commercial and Advanced Transportation Office at the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO). Through these partnered discussions, our students have researched available test tracks around the world and done extensive literature reviews to provide recommendations for the test track. Their research involved studying three different types of constructed tracks. One of them is the SpaceX test track which consists of a 1.5km low-pressure subscale tube. Another subscale track currently exists in Germany, along with the full-scale track built by Virgin Hyperloop One that is currently functional in the USA. Based on these specifications, our team has proposed a straight, tubeless track to be constructed at the University of Waterloo.
Upon completion of the initial phase, our students have made progress in the development of a conceptual design, conducting site assessments using multi criteria evaluation(MCE) assessments with permission from our assisting stakeholders and periodic consultations with partnering engineering firms, as well as University of Waterloo Plant Operations.
The Future: Challenges and Ambitions
Currently, there are three sites that are being proposed for the placement of the Waterloop test track. These alternatives were each assessed using criteria such as the geotechnical conditions, zoning, accessibility, and topography. Deeper conversations also involved scoping of potential landscapes, high-level cost estimating for our design track, and handling of complex engineering problems.
For the upcoming stages of our projects, our students intend to work on and incorporate research that includes all environmental considerations. Some of the considerations to be explored are climate specific issues, regional temperature and effect of winter time, water contamination and possible drainage requirements etc.
We are confident that this shared test track will be useful for personal pod testing that will support Canadian Hyperloop teams, as well as for promoting unprecedented opportunities for collaboration while spreading awareness through public demonstrations and research.