A CRACK team of Capital students is heading to California for the final of a high-profile competition aimed at shaping the future of high-speed travel.
The University of Edinburgh HYPED team will compete this Sunday in SpaceX Hyperloop contest. They are the only UK representatives.
The Brainchild of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, the revolutionary system is intended to propel passengers over land at around 750mph, travelling in pods through a vacuum tube.
“It’s fantastic and the level of support we’ve had from the university and others has been overwhelming,” HYPED head of sponsorship and engineering student Jack Noble said.
“We’re doing final prep and hopefully we’ll put on a good show over there. The team is working day and night to get ready on all aspects of the project. It’s been incredible.”
The team are pinning their hopes on Poddy The Second, their second Hyperloop pod, which features a pressurised habitable passenger cabin.
Powered by magnetic propulsion, the pod hovers above tracks to maximise frictionless speed and is made of carbon fibre to minimise weight.
Its designers hope to notch speeds of around 200mph on a track measuring under a mile in the Californian desert.
Projected Hyperloop costs are less than high speed rail and more energy efficient. A pod could carry up to 20 passengers from Edinburgh to London in just 45 minutes.
The team will compete against 17 other teams from around the world at the event run by Musk’s aerospace company, SpaceX.
The competition will be preceded by a week of intense design validation tests. The team are now in California and have just received their prototype.
Two dozen students are working on final checks and improvements to their prototype at a secure rented workshop in Orange County.
Founded in 2015 by a small group of engineering students, HYPED has grown into an eclectic team of more than 100 from across the academic spectrum.
Students participate in the SpaceX competition as well as undertake research projects and presenting at conferences.
The team has also secured private and public funding to work on a commercial Hyperloop venture.
They won a design award at a SpaceX event held in Texas in January 2016 and took part in the 2017 Hyperloop Pod Competition final, taking on fellow top global institutions.
HYPED was also the only student team to win a top prize last year in related commercial competition, the Hyperloop Global Challenge, up against more than 2600 entrants.
Teams developed detailed plans for the most feasible routes to build one of the world’s first Hyperloop systems.
Some have questioned the technology, however. Prof Robert Noland said last year: “It’s unlikely to be cheaper and is even less likely to be practical.”