What is the Hyperloop?

Between designing luxury all-electric cars and colonizing Mars, Elon Musk has come up with more of his fair share of out-of-this world ideas (literally). Even with all of the amazing projects he has taken on over the years, Musk shows no signs of slowing down, and in 2013, he released a white paper for the Hyperloop.

Waterloop competing at the first Hyperloop Competition in California.

The Hyperloop, as envisioned by the SpaceX CEO himself, aims to be the ultimate mode of terrestrial transportation. By blending Musk’s ideals for a mass transit system — safety, speed, cost efficiency, convenience, weather immunity, energy efficiency, earthquake resistance, and undisruptive routing systems — he hopes to connect the world in a way not previously thought of before. In order to take up such a daunting task and see his vision come true, Elon Musk, under SpaceX, has officially open-sourced the Hyperloop project, meaning the concepts and designs are free to use and be built upon. Since going open-source, the hyperloop project has received massive attention and has sparked inspiration in the hearts of many, leading to the formation of many design teams who all have their own take on the project.

By letting anyone take the reins and design their own pods, Musk hopes that the 1,200km/hour dream that is the Hyperloop will come true within the coming years. To help this along, SpaceX hosts annual hyperloop pod competitions where design teams from around the world can test out their pods on SpaceX’s mile-long track. Enter Waterloop: The University of Waterloo’s Hyperloop Design team, and the only fully Canadian team currently participating in SpaceX’s pod competitions.

In one of our previous articles, we talked a bit about our experience at the 2016 SpaceX pod competition and how we built our first pod prototype, Goose I. Since then, we have rolled out an updated pod, Goose II, which was put to the test at the 2017 SpaceX competition, earning us 15th place out of 30 teams. The main change from Goose I to II was that we swapped the contact lateral system (wooden wheels) for a mag wheel. Both versions still use levitation. However, we made use of different tanks for each.

Goose II

In 2018, we decided to take a break from competitions to focus on building Goose III. Now, we are preparing for the next hyperloop competition in the summer of 2019 with the hopes of taking the lead for Canada!

In doing these competitions, as well as hosting our very own competitions in the future, Waterloop seeks the put Canada at the forefront of hyperloop technology and be the home to the first fully-functional hyperloop transport system. The benefits of the having the hyperloop are endless; from transporting goods across the country in a few hours, to traveling home for the weekend within minutes, the addition of the hyperloop could greatly improve the lives of all Canadians.

It is for this great prospect — one of hope and innovation — that hyperloop teams from all over dedicate so much time and effort into actualizing Musk’s vision, and that is exactly what Waterloop is working towards every day.

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