Newfoundland team taking on world in SpaceX Hyperloop competition
They think they've got a pretty good shot at winning
A team of young students from Newfoundland and Labrador is hoping to conquer the world with its prototype for a revolutionary new form of transportation.
"Real scale, it'd be able to connect places like St. John's and Corner Brook in almost 30 minutes," said Stephanie Adey, a Memorial University student who acts as engineering business liaison and mechanical designer for Paradigm Hyperloop.
She and her team – comprised of 15 students from MUN, one student from College of the North Atlantic and 14 students from Northeastern University in Boston – are taking their prototype for a Hyperloop pod to the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California next week to compete against 23 other teams from around the world.
They're one of two teams with students from Canada.
A revolutionary prototype
They're expecting to do pretty well: their prototype is one of the world's first pods with air bearings, designed to travel at 320 kilometres per hour.
When their pod is shot down SpaceX's HyperTube test track next week, it will be the world's first run of an air bearing model.
It's a huge opportunity, Adey said, "for a group of Newfoundlanders, who don't normally get big opportunities on the global scale, to be able to go down to a competition and potentially be a top part of the group and to actually stand out."
What the heck is a Hyperloop?
Tesla pioneer, tech billionaire and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk first came up with the idea of the Hyperloop, a high-speed transportation system involving a pod travelling through a nearly-depressurized steel tube.
"It's pretty much just a vacuum tube where you travel really, really, really fast," said Adey. "We take out the air so you float, so that you don't have friction or drag."
The pods travel through the tube much like disks or pucks travel across an air hockey table.
'A new form of transportation'
The SpaceX competitions are held to inspire people to work on the technology and keep developing the idea.
"The end goal is to eventually have a functioning new form of transportation," said Adey.
Adey and her team leave for Los Angeles on Aug. 18. The competition starts on Aug. 25 and runs for three days.
"The folks that are down in Boston now, I'm pretty sure they didn't sleep at all last night when they were getting ready to ship the pod out," she said. All told, the team has been working on the Paradigm Hyperloop pod for more than eight months.
"So many, so many hours," said Adey. "It's been great though, every second of it. Everyone's loving it."
With files from Darryl Murphy