Published: 16th July 2021
Student team from IIT-M qualifies for European Hyperloop Week
The team has earned its place in the international event because of the self-propelled, autonomous hyperloop pod they developed
Team Avishkar of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras has qualified for the European Hyperloop Week. The team, consisting of 40 students, has earned its place in the international event because of the self-propelled, autonomous hyperloop pod developed by it.
Mentored by the Centre For Innovation (CFI), IIT Madras, Team Avishkar was the only team from Asia to qualify for the finals of the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition 2019, a global contest organised by Elon Musk's aerospace company SpaceX. It was Musk who had proposed the idea of a hyperloop in his 2013 white paper on 'Hyperloop Alpha'.
Out of more than 1,600 teams participating in this prestigious cutting-edge event, Team Avishkar was among the Top 21. Hyperloop offers a new revolutionary mode of transportation, a high-speed train that travels in a near-vacuum tube. The reduced air resistance allows the capsule inside the tube to reach speeds of more than 1,000 km/h, thereby dramatically reducing travel time across medium-range distances. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic and the lockdowns, the 40 students of Team Avishkar collaborated with each other on the development of the Hyperloop pod from their homes. They completely revamped the pod's sub-systems with scalable and efficient technologies. In the past few months, they manufactured a Hyperloop Pod prototype and tested the novel technology. "Our research has yielded technological breakthroughs such as the linear induction motor for propulsion, a proprietary levitation technology, and contactless magnetic braking system," said Neel Balar, Team Avishkar lead and third-year student at the IIT's Department of Engineering Design. "Looking beyond the pod, the team is also focusing efforts on the design of the Hyperloop's infrastructure," he added.
Explaining the importance of the infrastructure, such as tubes and pylons, Kishan Thakkar, fourth-year student at the IIT's Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, said it takes up about 70 per cent of a Hyperloop corridor's budget. "Our research is focused mainly on reducing the cost of this infrastructure and adapting the Hyperloop to the needs of the Indian sub-continent," Thakkar said in a statement. "The team is truly pushing the frontiers of this technology to create a sustainable future," he added.
Hyperloop has been a buzzword in India for the past few years. Several companies have proposed routes such as Mumbai-Pune and Chandigarh-Amritsar. After an initial study, Team Avishkar is working on a detailed study of energy needs, costs, demand and other aspects of a business model for a Hyperloop corridor between Bangalore and Chennai to assess the economic feasibility of the idea in India. Team Avishkar estimates that the travel time between Bangalore and Chennai can be reduced to just 30 minutes, compared with the six hours it takes today by car or train. Deloitte India has provided support to the team's efforts to make its mark at the European Hyperloop Week, which will be held in Valencia, Spain, from July 19 to 25. The team will participate virtually because of the pandemic-related travel restrictions.