A group of engineering students from Sydney is hoping their designs for a high-speed Hyperloop pod will catapult them to the attention of US technology entrepreneur Elon Musk.
A team of engineering students from the University of NSW (UNSW) will be the only team representing Australia in the finals of the Hyperloop Pod Competition 2019. These budding engineers beat more than 2000 other entrants and will pit their engineering, design and technology skills against 19 teams from universities around the world.
Hyperloop is a venture by Mr Musk's aerospace enterprise, SpaceX, and has plans for people to travel long distances in pods that ride on a cushion of air in single track vacuum tubes.
UNSW Hyperloop project manager and 4th year aerospace engineering student, Harry Zhang, said the concept has the potential to completely change the way we think about everyday travel.
“Hyperloop is basically a vacuum train where you hop in pods, and these would be shuttling you between major cities at the speed of sound,” he explained.
“So, it has major implications for how we access work, how you think about travel and totally disrupts the [urban transport] supply chain.”
He said the UNSW team's approach was quite unique. The team used off-the-shelf electrical components and reused and improved upon some of the technology behind the record-breaking sUNSWift solar car. All systems had to be sealed due to the vacuum and an on-board communications system installed.
Fifth year aerospace engineering student and UNSW Hyperloop structures lead, Yasmin Zamin, has overseen the construction of the self-propelled pod and connection of the internal machinery to the chassis that is encased in an aerodynamic shell.
“While we want this to be aerodynamic, it has to be also aesthetic and can conform to the regular engineering requirements that you would need for a Hyperloop pod," she said.
The competition on 21 July will see 20 teams travel through a mile-long vacuum tube and judged on their maximum speed, which includes deceleration to finish with 30 metres of the end of the tube.
The UNSW team will be up against last year's record-breakers from the Technical University of Munich who clocked up 467 km per hour, close to 0.4 mach.