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In the loop

Unique Queen’s University student team aims to build a Hyperloop.

A team of Queen’s students, representing faculties across campus, are channeling their inner Elon Musk and tackling the Hyperloop Pod Competition.

Since SpaceX unveiled the idea for a high-speed group transport system called the Hyperloop in 2013, the company has been working to accelerate the development of a functional Hyperloop prototype. The Queen’s Hyperloop Design Team, working out of SparQ Studios, has accepted the challenge and is hoping to be selected as one of 15 teams to travel to the SpaceX facility in California to build and test a human scale pod on the SpaceX test track.

Marnus Coetsee (l) and discusses the Hyperloop pod with Jean-Samuel Poirier.

“The idea of the Hyperloop is to create a transportation system that is frictionless and uses very little to no energy,” explains team co-captain Arthur Cockfield (Com’18). “The team is still refining the technology but we are looking at using magnetic levitation to move our pod around the track.”

Currently the team is building a 1/50 scale pod and track. Essentially, the pod is placed on the track which looks like an enclosed tube. Inside the pod is an arduino – a small circuit board that is programmed to move the pod. A fan similar to a computer cooling fan will be installed at the back of the pod to propel it. Magnets under the pod will help it levitate – reducing friction and allowing the pod to move using less energy.

While some teams will only be presenting drawings of their proposed methods, the Queen’s team is creating a scale model of their design, using 3D printer technology located in SparQ Studios.

“We are now ordering the parts and working to validate the ideas that we have in regards to the technology we are using,” says Marnus Coetsee (Sc’18). “The key to this for us is bringing in ideas and energy from all over campus. A lot good ideas come from unexpected places. The team is comprised of students from engineering, economics, business, computer science and political studies which makes us unique.”

Brenden Chow begins to build a new pod on the 3D printer.

The team is now starting a major sponsorship push as they are hoping to be invited to California. Jean-Samuel Poirier (Sc’18) says the Queen’s entry is unique and exciting.

“The nature of this design makes it difficult to test components; you can't just walk out your door and find a Hyperloop track to throw your pod on. That's why we've been creating this prototype,” says Mr. Poirier. “We really want to bridge this gap between simulation and real life to actually prove this technology is viable. To my knowledge, we're the only team doing so and that's pretty exciting. We've already accomplished a lot this year with the limited resources available to us so I can't wait to see what our team can achieve with even more support.”

For more information visit the Queen’s Hyperloop website.