Illini Hyperloop Team unveils "Pod" at Quad Day
“The Hyperloop is poised to become the fifth mode of transportation and will be capable of transporting goods and people at speeds in excess of 700 mph at ground level,” explained Kyle Weiskircher, captain and build manager of the Illini Hyperloop team. “At this speed, travel from Champaign to Chicago or St. Louis would only take 20 minutes.”
Over the past few months, the University of Illinois Hyperloop team, including Weiskircher, who earned his BS in Aerospace Engineering at Illinois in 2016, and AE undergraduate Liam McHugh, has built a pod prototype that will be entered in the SpaceX Inaugural Hyperloop Competition in January 2017. Team members will be unveiling its “Hyperloop Pod” on Quad Day, Sunday, August 21, from 1:00-3:00 p.m. on the Engineering Hall overlook (south side of the Bardeen Quad).
“The all-undergraduate team has fully committed to the ambitious goal of winning this international competition,” explained Blake Johnson, a lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering and team faculty advisor. “The pod features a carbon fiber and aluminum body and uses a novel magnetic levitation system – designed and built by the students – that allows the pod to float above the track at all speeds.”
"Our vehicle should achieve speeds in excess of 300 mph on the one-mile competition track,” said Weiskircher. He has been involved in the design process and presided over the summer building phase with the help of McHugh, Joe Sabuda (Engineering Mechanics), and Rishab Pohane (Computer Science).
In Summer 2015, a group of Illinois mechanical engineering students built a functioning 1:2-scale model of the Hyperloop to test some of the key components of Musk's design, which was outlined in a much-read, open source white paper published in August 2013.
Since SpaceX founder Elon Musk first unveiled the Hyperloop idea, there has been a tremendous amount of interest in the concept. In addition to attracting a number of university student teams, a handful of private companies have chosen to pursue this effort. For this reason, SpaceX announced an open competition—geared towards university students and independent engineering teams—to design and build the best Hyperloop pod.
To support this competition, SpaceX is constructing a one-mile test track adjacent to its Hawthorne, California headquarters. Teams will be able to test their human-scale pods during a competition weekend at the track, scheduled for January 27-29, 2017.