The Hyperloop is a concept that has been considered futuristic and very technologically advanced for our species for a few decades. After Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, proposed the idea of having pods traveling in a vacuum tube with no wheels, at speeds similar to those of airplanes, the world began to watch and have hope, having seen the things he has achieved. In HYPED, the University of Edinburgh Hyperloop Team, we created a Pod from scratch, having its own magnetic levitation and propulsion modules, software system, etc, to be selected as one of 20 contestants in the SpaceX Hyperloop Competition III. After having worked for the majority of the year in the project, first semester in theoretical planning and second semester in manufacturing, we achieved what was thought unachievable. Countless individual and collective hours were put together into what the world would know as “Poddy the Second”.
After shipping the Pod along with its components, having worked full time in manufacturing since the beginning of the summer until July, we set out to California to prepare the Pod for the competition. The members of the team that made it to California, around 40, were scattered in different houses with other members they might or might not have interacted with before. This improved the team mentality as we got the opportunity of coexisting with other members, making working as a team easier and more enjoyable.
One week before the competition, teams had to go to SpaceX and start preparing their pods, by passing SpaceX tests. These were intended to check all Pod subsystems and functions, to ensure the Pods were able to run in the SpaceX test track without failures. People from different sub-teams went in to check their parts and their integration with the full system. Another group of people, including myself, received an inside tour of SpaceX by an Edinburgh University graduate that now works there. This was an astounding experience, as we were able to see how the true fundamentals of science, engineering, and human creativity join to create rockets, which will one day allow us to become a multiplanetary species. Seeing something of this calibre works as an incentive to continue working in these projects that have the potential of revolutionizing technology.
The final day of testing was both inspiring and heartbreaking, as we became one of the last 6 teams in the competition, one of the 6 best teams in the world pursuing the Hyperloop concept, but failed to pass a functional test. Due to this we were unable to run in the Pod competition. However, comparing Poddy the Second to other Pods gave us extra motivation, as we were one of very few to create something truly comparable to the idea of a Hyperloop, not simply a fast car to win the competition.
The full experience was truly inspiring and will work as another factor to drive the team members into more projects of this scale.