The Hyperloop, a transonic rapid tube transport system, capable of reaching speeds of 700 mph in a low-pressure vacuum is becoming a reality thanks to Elon Musk and SpaceX. Now hailed as the 5th means of transportation behind planes, trains, ships and cars, Hyperloop will change the way we move from city to city. With cities becoming more and more crowded, the need for high-speed energy efficient transportation has arisen. High-speed bullet trains have reached their limits due to friction, aerodynamics, and economics. The Hyperloop concept proposes a mode of transportation that is safer, cheaper, and faster than other modes of ground transportation.
The goal of Hyperloop in the future is to connect Los Angeles, California and San Fransisco, California with a network of interconnected tubes laid along the center of the highway. It will be the fastest means of transportation between the two cities. Solar panels on top of the tubes will make the Hyperloop 100% self sufficient. The goal of our project is to help make this concept a reality. Designing a pod that safely and efficiently travels through the tube will act as a proof of concept for this proposed new means of transportation.
What are we building?
Our Mechanical Engineering senior design team at the University of Colorado, Denver will be building a Hyperloop pod and testing it at the Hyperloop competition, sponsored by SpaceX, in June 2016, held in Hawthorne, California. The pod will be designed and built at the University of Colorado, Denver by using advanced engineering techniques, supplemented with computer design and analysis. Our project aims to raise enough money through Kickstarter, private companies, and competition funding to build a prototype Hyperloop pod.
Risks and challenges
When designing something truly new, there is a risk that it won't work. But with the full support of the engineering college, and the dedication of our team, we know we can see our goal to fruition. With that being said, our team will run into obstacles on the project, and here are a few that we already see.
All of the subsystems of the project including the propulsion, levitation, and aerodynamics have been proven and tested on various projects including the electric car, aircraft, and space flight. The challenging part is taking those elements and putting them together. Currently, aerodynamic analysis is taking place to optimize the shape of the pod relative to the tube. Later, once the shape is finalized, different subsystems will be designed to work in conjunction with each other. Bringing all the systems online through a control system, essentially the backbone of the project, will determine if the pod is successful.
Although many have doubt that the Hyperloop is feasible in general, considering the system is isolated inside a tube, a lot of the design can be optimized to meet a set of particular conditions. This will make analysis more simple as opposed to designing for a wide range of conditions, such as aircraft design.
Some construction considerations include, weight optimization, new mechanical systems, and the electrical system. Weight optimization will be critical in determining, the pitch, yaw, and roll of the pod when traveling at high speeds. Lowering the weight as much as possible will be crucial. Designing new mechanical systems will offer a wide range of challenges. There are no books about Hyperloop design as opposed to automotive design. New mechanical devices for the pod will be constructed with the help of industry professionals, and computer analysis. Last, designing the electrical system of the pod will be the most challenging element. Placing sensors on the pod that react in realtime to conditions will help maintain a safe ride.
The biggest challenge in operation is testing the pod. Some subsystems will need to be tested in a cylindrical tube, such as a water slide, before testing on the final competition loop. Securing a spot to test the pod before the competition will help work out any major issues.
A NOTE ABOUT SAFETY
This competition is a proof of concept. Under no circumstance will anyone ride inside the pod. Safety systems will be multilayered, and redundant. The concept is for a transportation system to be 100% accident free. This will be done by controlling the pods remotely under strict safety protocol.
Any additional obstacles will be detailed in the weekly newsletter sent to backers of $5.00 or more.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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