All aboard the Hyperloop train

Waterloo&rsquo;s student engineering team, Waterloop, was one of the 22 teams that received the opportunity to move on to the final round of the SpaceX Hyperloop competition, which will be held in June at the company&rsquo;s headquarters in Hawthorne, California.</p>

The competition started as the result of inventor and entrepreneur Elon Musk’s 2012 proposition of a new form of human transportation he dubbed the “Hyperloop.” It would be a train-like system, carrying passengers along in a capsule, which itself is placed into a tube that allows movement at extremely high speeds. Such a mode of transportation would be extremely fast, energy-efficient, and would work regardless of weather conditions.

SpaceX announced a competition to design the capsule of the Hyperloop in 2015 and the University of Waterloo quickly put together a group of students to participate. The competition requires a variety of different departments to make up the design and overall proposal, including pod design, braking, and management teams. 

Led by UW student Nicholas Achkarian, the team dubbed itself Waterloop and submitted their proposal early January. “We are interested in the future of transportation and thought the Hyperloop was a bold vision of it,” Achkarian said.

Waterloop then had the opportunity to sell their proposal on Jan. 29 and 30, sending seven representatives to Texas A&M University where their booth garnered lots of attention, including that of the CEO of the Hyperloop company and a variety of other sponsors.

Of the 74 total teams that were invited to the event in Texas to show off their proposals, only 22, including Waterloop, were invited to SpaceX headquarters in order to have their designs compete against each other at a five-mile long track constructed in order to test and improve designs of the capsule.

The initial prototype phase has been ongoing throughout the month in anticipation of the final round of the competition scheduled to be held in June. 

“We have participated in a truly historical event, the early stages of the creation of a fifth mode of transportation, after planes, trains, boats, and automobile,” Achkarian said of his experience at Hydroloop.

“We hoped to build a working prototype and win the competition … Now that we’ve passed the first round, we are raising the money to do so,” he said of Waterloop’s future plans.