RMIT team behind vacuum travel pod rewarded for revolutionary design

Wednesday, 16 March 2016
RMIT team behind vacuum travel pod rewarded for revolutionary design

RMIT students’ performance at the international Hyperloop design competition in Texas has showcased the future of Australian engineering, showing off with a scalable next generation travel pod.

The VicHyper team advanced to the next stage of the Hyperloop design competition, chosen from around 130 selected projects for the round. The team was the only Australian one to make it to the Hyperloop round in Texas.

During the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Design Weekend, the students presented their design of a high-speed travel pod to engineers from NASA, Space X and Tesla, and impressed the judges sufficiently to advance to the next round of the competition.

Particular focus was placed on the engineering around the pod’s braking system, resulting in a special win of the Braking System Technical Excellence Award at the Texas round of the competition.

The pod, as designed by the team, promises to revolutionise the future of transport. Passengers sit within the pod, which itself travels on cushions of air inside a vacuum tube at speeds of 1200 km/h. With such speeds, travel between Melbourne and Sydney would only take 40 minutes, and the system could be fully solar powered to reduce carbon emissions.

Having returned to Melbourne, the team is now focused on building and testing a prototype travel pod, which they will ship to Los Angeles to compete against 29 other university teams from around the world in the next stage of the competition.

According to Zachary McLelland, who led the group, competing against international engineers was eye opening.

“To have the best young engineering minds from all over the world working towards one goal of making the world a better place was quite surreal,” he said. “No one was secretive about their designs and everyone had advice for other teams on how they could make their design better.”

While most of the teams designed their transport pods purely to compete on the test track, the VicHyper team designed for a pod that could be scaled up up to a full scale working model.

“We were more interested in something that would help change the world, than in something that would win a competition,” McLelland said.