Illini Hyperloop unveils its pod at Quad Day


The Illini Hyperloop team unveiled its new pod prototype Sunday afternoon outside Engineering Hall. The pod will be entered in the SpaceX Inaugural Hyperloop Competition in January 2017.
Dean Andreas Cangellaris was on hand for the unveiling and demonstration, which included the pod hovering an inch above its make-shift track. 
“The Hyperloop is poised to become the fifth mode of transportation and will be capable of transporting goods and people at speeds in excess of 700 mph at ground level,” explained Kyle Weiskircher, captain and build manager of the Illini Hyperloop team. “At this speed, travel from Champaign to Chicago or St. Louis would only take 20 minutes.”
“The all-undergraduate team has fully committed to the ambitious goal of winning this international competition,” explained Blake Johnson, a lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering and who, along with Carlos Pantano-Rubino, associate professor in MechSE, is one of the team’s faculty advisors. “The pod features a carbon fiber and aluminum body and uses a novel magnetic levitation system—designed and built by the students—that allows the pod to float above the track at all speeds.”
“Our vehicle should achieve speeds in excess of 300 mph on the one-mile competition track,” said Weiskircher, who graduated last spring with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering. He has been involved in the design process and presided over the summer building phase with the help of engineering undergraduates Liam McHugh (aerospace engineering), Joe Sabuda (engineering mechanics), and Rishab Pohane (computer science).
Last summer (2015), a group of MechSE students built a functioning 1:2-scale model of the Hyperloop to test some of the key components of Musk’s design, which was outlined in a much-read, open source white paper published in August 2013.
Since SpaceX founder Elon Musk first unveiled the Hyperloop idea, there has been a tremendous amount of interest in the concept. In addition to attracting a number of university student teams, a handful of private companies are also pursuing this effort. For this reason, SpaceX announced an open competition—geared towards university students and independent engineering teams—to design and build the best Hyperloop pod. To support the competition, SpaceX is constructing a one-mile test track adjacent to its Hawthorne, California headquarters. Teams will be able to test their human-scale pods during a competition weekend at the track, scheduled for January 27-29, 2017.