Last month, the UF Gatorloop team concluded their run in the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Phase 2 competition. As one of 29 teams selected from hundreds to participate in the second phase, the UF students took on an exciting opportunity that challenged them as engineers and as a team to develop a functional vehicle. While the UF Gatorloop team will not be advancing to the final round of competition in summer 2017, all the participants found the opportunity exciting and rewarding.
Sebastian Quesada, co-captain of Gatorloop, said he wanted to be a part of creating something that could change the world. The team was formed in August of 2015, and many students on the team had never before built a vehicle from scratch. Instead, throughout the process, they learned by trial and error. From its conceptualization phase to the final product, the pod took a year to create.
Gatorloop’s pod is made up of 2,700 parts, 2,800 lines of code, 450 feet of wiring and weighs over 1,200 pounds. It is completely functional and could reach speeds of 293 miles per hour. In total, including the cost of shipping it to California, the pod’s value is around $42,000. David Hahn, professor and chair of the Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, served as the team’s adviser.
SpaceX and Tesla founder, Elon Musk, created the Hyperloop challenge to revolutionize transportation. The Hyperloop idea includes a high-speed, ground transportation system run almost entirely on solar power that is tubular and maintains a high vacuum to eliminate air resistance to vehicles. Passengers and cargo would be transported in pods at high velocity. The purpose of the Hyperloop competition was to encourage students to be innovative in designing and building the best pod.
SpaceX held a preliminary design review at the Texas Design Weekend in January 2016, where judges decided who would move on in the competition. Teams were narrowed down from over 1,500 to the final 29, which included UF. The UF Gatorloop team began manufacturing in April 2016, with most of the production kicking in around August 2016. The 29 teams competed in the Phase 2 trials, which took place at the end of January 2017 at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. Teams advancing to the final round will return to Hawthorne in summer 2017.
Learn more about the UF Gatorloop team and their work, visit: http://www.ufhyperloop.com/.
View Gatorloop’s protoype video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmWMtBscRZ0&feature=youtu.be