As part of the Edinburgh Universities’ Hyperloop Society (or by our catchy name – HYPED), we were granted the opportunity of a lifetime to go to Los Angeles as a team and present our prototype to the very people building the real thing. After almost a year of preparation and a summer of blood, sweat and tears to bring to life our imagination of the Hyperloop, a week in California was a treat to say the least, especially with funds offered within the School of Mathematics’ to make it as seamless as possible.
Hyperloop is essentially a new form of high speed travel, that utilises the frictionless qualities of levitation and the vacuum, allowing objects to reach velocities far greater than what we could achieve in atmosphere on earth. The object in our case – the pod pictured below. Once the engineers had looked at our structure in depth we were cleared to run at our max speed, which is a first for a UK Hyperloop pod, let alone a student pod from Scotland. One of our aims when designing our pod was to make it a valid scalable model for human transportation, and in doing so we were one of the only teams to attempt this. Our dummy, Dummenic, weighed in at 70kg and was 6 feet tall – which was in line with the UK 95th Percentile Male.
We weren’t always confident we would make the competition, there were times throughout the summer where we could hardly see this far-fetched idea coming together. Many days of little to no progress were certainly demoralising, but we would always pick ourselves up and do what had to be done. Even when in the US, one of my teammates looked at the length of the tube that our pod was to occupy, and said “I can’t see this working now, and we aren’t even talking about the full-size tube!”. But that’s why we were there, to make it a reality.
At the end of our trip there was much to reflect on, especially as the success of our trip was not quite so clear cut. We were never granted the opportunity to run our pod, but the experience in building such a mechanically and electronically sound machine will benefit us immensely next year. As a Mathematics and Physics student, many have asked me how this will further my future in my chosen field, but I don’t see it as that. The skills I have learnt, the friends I have made, and the sheer size of our achievement is something invaluable and I will likely find it to be one of my most cherished memories from University.