The Hyperloop – Elon Musk’s concept in which high-speed pods carry passengers between cities – could be brought one step closer to reality by a group of University of Waterloo students called “Waterloop” whose prototype will be up for real-world testing this summer.
The Hyperloop was originally proposed by Musk, an entrepreneur who founded SpaceX and Tesla. He has encouraged teams to work on Hyperloop designs through SpaceX’s Hyperloop Pod Competition.
There were 1,200 international teams originally in the competition. Earlier this year, Waterloop’s pod design made it through the first round of eliminations which left only 115 student engineering teams. Waterloop emerged from SpaceX’s Hyperloop Pod Competition Design Weekend at Texas A&M University as one of the 31 student engineering teams proceeding to the prototype stage. They will be coming to Hawthorne, Calif., this summer to test their prototypes on a mile-long test track at SpaceX headquarters.
The design itself is minimalist and the team took pains to reduce manufacturing complexity, cost and mass, and there was an aim to use off-the-shelf components. According to Waterloop’s design documents, its Hyperloop pod weights 680 kg and it is designed to carry 26 passengers and carry a total weight of 2,300 kg. They expect each pod to cost $37,000 to build.
While the top speed is expected to be in excess of 1,000 km/h, the expected cruising velocity will be around 350 kilometers per hour. Not bad, considering this would be several times faster than the typical commute down the 401 between Waterloo and Toronto.