- The Concept
- A Brief History
- Hyperloop Competitions
- UW Hyperloop Team & Pod Mark I
- Joining the Team
- Designing and Building Pod Mark II
- “Production Hell”
- Unveiling Pod Mark II
- Competition Weekend
- The Aftermath
2017 University of Washington Hyperloop team at SpaceX Headquarters in Hawthorne, CA
The Hyperloop is a proposed high-speed transportation system, for both goods and people. Hyperloop systems comprise three essential elements; a pressurized Pod, a tube in a partial vacuum, and a series of terminals along the length of the tube. The high-level idea is that the tube removes air resistance from the path of the Pod, allowing near-supersonic terrestrial travel, all while achieving significantly better energy economies of scale than competing modes of transport.
In its modern form, the Hyperloop was introduced as a unified concept in a White Paper by Elon Musk and the Advanced Projects Research teams at Tesla and
Hyperloop Alpha by Elon Musk, et. al. (2013)
A Brief History
Though popularized by Elon Musk & Co. in 2013, the underlying concepts that constitute a Hyperloop System are significantly older. Preliminary theories of a pneumatically-driven pod through a sealed tube first appear in 1799, in a patent for a wind pump compressing air to obtain motive power filed by George Medhurst. Other sources list William Murdoch as the originator of this concept, but no definitive provenance information exists. Medhurst went on to describe a system of transportation involving pressurized tubes in the following century, while Murdoch made significant contributions to the engineering of early pneumatic tubes.
General advances in engineering, particularly in the domain of hypersonic technology (both terrestrial and extraterrestrial) during the early 20th Century, led to advances in the study of fundamental Physical concepts at these speed and pressure regimes, including the Kantrowitz Limit, and other stress-related mechanisms. It was a combination of these advances, as well as general strain on the transportation systems in the state of California that led to Musk and his teams iterating the Hyperloop concept in 2012 and 2013.
To encourage research and development of the Hyperloop Concept,
Elon Musk's SpaceX Plans Hyperloop Pod Races at California HQ in 2016
The SpaceX rocket company announced something completely different on Monday: a Hyperloop pod competition that would follow up on a high-speed transit concept laid out by the company's billionaire founder, Elon Musk.
More than 700 people have signed up to help Elon Musk build a Hyperloop prototype
A lot of people apparently think they have what it takes to impress Elon Musk. Musk's Hyperloop pod competition has received more than 700 entries since the contest was announced last Monday. The contest, which seeks to find the perfect pod design for the futuristic Hyperloop, is being hosted by Musk's rocket company SpaceX.
This was divided into two key phases: the first was a Design Phase (with open submissions for teams from across the world), and the second was the Prototype and Build Phase. Only teams that had satisfactory proposals at the end of the first phase were allowed to proceed to the second. In practice, this meant that the first Design Weekend in 2016 had 1,700(!) submissions, with only 30 selected to build and test their pods at the newly constructed mile-long SpaceX Hyperloop Test track facility in Hawthorne, CA the following year.
Hyperloop Design Weekend Guidelines
UW Hyperloop Team & Pod Mark I
The University of Washington’s Hyperloop team was started by David Coven, Malachi Williams, and Michael Chamerski in the Fall Quarter of 2015. Before I joined the team, David, Malachi, Michael, and nearly 40 others designed and simulated an initial version of a Hyperloop Pod, the Mark I. They went on to pitch this design at Texas A&M University for the first SpaceX Hyperloop Design Weekend.
UW Hyperloop team sets its sights on SpaceX
By Chelsea Yates August 24, 2016 Imagine traveling from San Francisco to Los Angeles in under 30 minutes at transonic speed. Sound unreal? A team of UW students known as UWashington Hyperloop has been working hard to actualize this process. This winter, they will head to SpaceX headquarters to test their progress.
MIT Among Hyperloop Pod Design Winners
Student teams will build and test their designs at SpaceX this summer.
The "fifth mode" - Hyperloop, transportation, and urban development
Hyperloop could be happening When Elon Musk started talking about the super futuristic transportation mode Hyperloop for the first time in 2013, I think a lot of people must have felt like those hearing the idea of aircraft in 1910 when the Wright brothers first introduced it to the world.
Elon Musk's Hyperloop competition comes to Texas
The Hyperloop is a transportation concept that envisions sending a levitating aluminum pod 760 miles per hour to efficiently transport people between locations. Billionaire Elon Musk has popularized the theory and sponsored a competition in Texas that awarded the winning team an opportunity to build and test their idea on his private track in California.
The team performed exceptionally well at Design Weekend in 2016, and successfully qualified to build one of the first Hyperloop Pods for the 2017 competition. To top that all off, they also brought home the
Joining the Team
I joined the team during the Design phase of the Mark II Pod, a few months after Design Weekend. My role on the team was to get a handle on all the business functions (funding, procurement, human resource management, project management, business development, publicity, resource management, etc.), as the team’s operational capacity had not scaled with the engineering organization. Soon after I joined, we downsized the team from an inflated 80+, to a more appropriately sized 30. At this time, we also recruited Paul Gentsch, who co-led the Business Management Team with me.
Hyperloop Team in Spring Quarter 2016
During this time, my group spearheaded funding efforts, and ensured that the team had sufficient working capital to complete the Pod in time for Competition Weekend in January 2017. This included DTC fundraising efforts, and direct engagement with materials suppliers to source fabrication materials and services for the Pod. Notably, we organized a fundraising campaign across individuals, and various Departments at the University (including the William E. Boeing Department of Aeronautics and Astroanutics, the Paul G. Allen Department of Computer Science and Engineering, and the
In parallel to this, the Engineering functions of the team were pushing ahead at full steam. During this time, the team overhauled the propulsion system from the proposed system in Competition I. Specifically, the team pivoted to a contactless propulsion system driven by powerful neodymium magnets arranged in circular Halbach Arrays. A combination of dynamic (from the rotors) and static Halbach arrays provided sufficient resultant force to enable levitation at high speed. This, in combination with Eddy current braking delivered a fully contactless propulsion and braking system for the Pod.
Designing and Building Pod Mark II
The Pod went through many design iterations, but after much review, the team settled on a final design and began fabrication. The procurement team got to work securing building materials (including $50,000+ worth of Carbon Fiber for the shell!), and the team began final Pod fabrication in various team members’ garages in the Seattle area.
UW Hyperloop Pod Mark 2
3D content creation and sharing platform for web and augmented reality.
3D CAD model of the UW Hyperloop Pod Mark 2 (Note: Many polygons; requires a good graphics card!)
The months that led up to Competition Weekend in January 2017 were full of late nights, intense design discussions, and near misses when fingers were mixed with hundreds of powerful Neodymium magnets.
In addition to traditional engineering challenges, we were also faced with the unique problem of trying to unload nearly 2,000 lb (~900 kg) of Carbon Fiber from a U-Haul (without a fork-lift).
In hindsight, we should have found a forklift…
With an almost literal ton of carbon fiber, many attempts were made at laying out the shell. Unfortunately, we did not have access to an Autoclave. This forced us to use a wet lay-up process for the shell. Despite many failed attempts, the final version came out absolutely awesome.
Early, unsuccessful attempt at laying out the carbon fiber shell
Final carbon fiber shell used for Pod Mark II
Competition-ready Pod Mark II shell, with exposed Carbon Fiber
Another highlight of this intense period was getting to work with Controls Systems Team Lead Jonathan Lundlee on wiring and integrating the Control Systems for the Pod. We completed this effort just hours before it was due to be driven down to Hawthorne for Competition Weekend.
Fabrication materials arriving at the Lab
Through this effort, the team remained focused, and delivered a track-ready Hyperloop Pod in time for our launch the week before the Competition in January 2017.
Unveiling Pod Mark II
Front profile, on test track segment
Release pin for the Pod
Final decal highlights
Family photo with the finished Pod!
We had the privilege of hosting a large unveiling event for the Pod, the week before Competition Weekend. While this was a ton of fun for the team, we consciously held this event before the competition to attract continued support from our diverse group of donors and funding sources at the University of Washington.
UW Hyperloop team unveils its purple pod racer, and gets ready to let 'er rip
The University of Washington's Hyperloop team showed off its sleek pod racer and let fans take a peek under the carbon composite hood, one week before a national competition in California. For the team's roughly 35 students, Thursday night's unveiling at the GloCal Composites Lab in Seattle's Eastlake neighborhood was an opportunity to celebrate the purple-tinted fruits of their labor.
Seattle to Portland in 15 minutes: UW students design future of travel
SEATTLE - A team of University of Washington students are about to go to California in the final phase of a competition to build a hyperloop pod. The competition, hosted by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, started with 1,200 teams around the world. The UW Hyperloop team has now made it to the final 30.
Seattle to Portland in 15 minutes? UW students competing to build 700 mph hyperloop
A team of University of Washington engineering students is competing in an international challenge to design a hyperloop pod - part of an effort to develop the dream of a ground-based transportation system that would go more than 700 miles...
Here are the Hyperloop pods competing in Elon Musk's big race later this year
Later this year, dozens of college teams from around the world will travel to Hawthorne, California to compete in a high-stakes contest to prove Elon Musk's vision of super-fast, super-sustainable, tube-based transportation known as the Hyperloop. The teams were chosen last January in SpaceX's Hyperloop pod design competition held at Texas A&M University.
Following an extremely successful launch, some of the team got started on the long drive down from Seattle to Hawthorne in a U-Haul, carrying precious cargo. In tandem, the team also prepared and delivered a detailed design review of the Pod Mark II as a part of the competition requirements.
Final design review of Pod Mark II
At Competition Weekend, the team performed exceptionally - we achieved
Given the competition started with over 1,700 teams, this result exceeded our wildest expectations. We successfully completed a vacuum test with the Pod in the test track, and the team got to show off Pod Mark II to a panel of judges, including Elon Musk and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Pressurized test track ingress
Elon, David, and Pod Mark II
UW Pod Mark II shell on display
Down range at the mile-long test track
After an extremely successful performance at Competition Weekend, the my group secured significant funding from nearly every related department at the University of Washington. The UW Hyperloop Team was fully funded until the last Hyperloop Pod Competition in 2019.
“Sick paint job” - Elon Musk
Falcon 9 Block 5 booster
The team enjoyed a (much needed!) break after the first competition. We celebrated at the Lab in Seattle, and got to dispose of some of the first prototypes of our design. We even made it on the front page of the UW website! The success of the first Hyperloop Pod Competition led to a second one being scheduled for the subsequent Summer.
UW team places high in Elon Musk's hyperloop transportation competition
A University of Washington team of students came in fourth in the nation last month in a California competition to build the transportation system of the future. Share story A University of Washington student team that's in a competition to build the transportation system of the future did very well last month in the latest part of an ongoing competition - placing fourth in the nation and sixth in the world.
SpaceX schedules Hyperloop II contest in August, and UW's team is in the race
SpaceX's second Hyperloop competition for student-led teams is coming up in August, with the University of Washington's crew listed among two dozen contestants. Hyperloop Pod Competition II, set for Aug. 25-27 at SpaceX's test track in Hawthorne, Calif., follows up on the first round of pod races that took place in January.
(Left) Front page of the University of Washington website after the competition; (Right) UW President Ana Mari Cauce congratulating the team
In the months that followed, the team re-grouped to conduct handoff operations to the team that would be taking over leadership efforts in the next year. At this time, I created the Impact Development group, dedicated to exploring the economic feasibility of a Hyperloop system in the Pacific Northwest (Portland - Seattle - Vancouver) corridor.
Shortly after, most of the team (myself included, being a Senior) graduated and went our separate ways! Mitchell, Nicole, and Paul (being Juniors at the time of the first competition) went on to lead the Team for the following competitions, and went from strength to strength. They went on to place highly in the subsequent competitions, until they ended in 2019.