They may not have won the competition, but they definitely won the hearts of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and Virgin Hyperloop One Co-founder Josh Geigel with their project that can help build an autonomous Hyperloop Pod in India.
Avishkar Hyperloop, the student team from the Centre For Innovation (CFI) at IIT Madras, was the only Asian team to enter the final of the "SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition 2019" held in Los Angeles on July 21.
Led by Suyash Singh, a second-year M.Tech student at the department of mechanical engineering, Avishkar Hyperloop is working on an indigenous design and development for building the first-ever self-propelled, completely autonomous Hyperloop Pod in India.
Although the competition was won by Team TUM (Technical University of Munich), who set a new speed record of 463 km per hour, Avishkar Hyperloop met Musk, who was all praise for their stupendous work.
"Pleasure to have met and interacted with @elonmusk at the @SpaceX @Hyperloop Pod Competition 2019! Also, a wonderful experience for Team @avishkar_loop , the only Asian Finalist there!" tweeted Pranit Mehta, an engineering student and part of the Avishkar team.
Pleasure to have met and interacted with @elonmusk at the @SpaceX @Hyperloop Pod Competition 2019! Also, a wonderful experience for Team @avishkar_loop , the only Asian Finalist there!#LeapOntoTheLoop #IndianHyperloop pic.twitter.com/ZYOnlbFQh9— Pranit Mehta (@ThePranitMehta) July 22, 2019
The team works with a vision to develop technologies for future mode of high-speed transportation with applications in various fields, including defence, logistics and aerospace industry, among others.
"The team has taken strenuous technical efforts at every stage and has been quite professional about executing the project. This is an important milestone for the future transportation technology in our country," S.R. Chakravarthy, Faculty Advisor, Avishkar Hyperloop, and Professor, Department of Aerospace Engineering, IIT Madras, told IANS.
Avishkar was one of the top 21 teams to be selected out of over 1,600 teams globally.
Earlier, the Indian team visited Virgin Hyperloop One's facility in Los Angeles and took a tour.
Virgin Hyperloop One Co-founder and CTO Geigel met the team and discussed the company's plans to create a Hyperloop network in India and shared the progress on the Pune-Mumbai Hyperloop project.
"I want to congratulate Avishkar Hyperloop for coming this far in the competition," Geigel told the students.
Virgin Hyperloop One tweeted: "The student hyperloop team stopped by our Los Angeles headquarters to learn more about our progress in India. Always encouraging to see the next generation of thinkers embracing this transformative technology!"
Virgin Hyperloop One has proposed a plan that will help people to travel from Mumbai to Pune under 30 minutes.
The work on the project is likely to begin by December this year and completed by 2023.
"Pune to Mumbai in under 30 minutes. Are you ready?" Virgin Hyperloop One had tweeted in June.
The first phase will be opened as a trial run which will initially cover 15 km.
Musk proposed the idea of Hyperloop to the world in 2013. His company SpaceX organises the Hyperloop Pod Competition every year to accelerate the development of functional prototypes and encourage student innovation.
Select teams build a sub-scale prototype transport vehicle to demonstrate the technical feasibility of the various aspects of the Hyperloop concept.
The primary factor to decide the winner is the top speed achieved by the Hyperloop Pod in the run in the one-mile long vacuum tube, installed at the SpaceX headquarters.
The Pod developed by the Avishkar team spanned about three metres in length and weighed around 120 kg.
The first step was to select powerful motors that could provide the required traction and a source to power it. The students searched through numerous motors and controllers and a vacuum compatible battery pack, which would best suit the design and constraints.
Simultaneously came the challenge of analysing every change in the other subsystems so that it could accommodate the change in speed, mass, forces etc.
Avishkar had to perform a number of iterations and simulations, looking through every available resource that could make their Pod better, keeping in mind the timeline.
Once they reach a level to commercialise the project, the students plan to set up a start-up as commercialising such a heavy infrastructure project would not be possible without the support of the government and various stakeholders.